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American Asthma Foundation Announces Breakthrough Discovery
Date:1/6/2009

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Asthma Foundation announced a research breakthrough that explains why tiny, household pests called dust mites are a major source of airborne allergens for patients with allergic asthma.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090106/AQTU532)

Dean Smith, Executive Director of the American Asthma Foundation, explains that "although dust mites are known to trigger asthma attacks, until now we did not know why the allergic response to the mites was so strong." The mystery was solved as a result of research funded by the American Asthma Foundation's Strategic Program for Asthma Research (SPAR). The results were published December 7, 2008 on http://www.nature.com, the on-line edition of Nature, a prestigious scientific journal. The lead investigator, Dr. Christopher Karp, and his colleagues found that house dust mites trick the immune system into believing that it is facing a bacterial infection. Thus misinformed, the immune system mounts a strong allergic response to the mites, a response that can trigger asthma attacks.

Dr. Karp is head of the Division of Molecular Immunology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. In 2006, he received a three-year senior investigator award from the American Asthma Foundation's Strategic Program in Asthma Research. The Program sponsors research that investigates new theories about the underlying causes of asthma with the goal of improving treatment and curing and preventing the disease. Dr. Karp's colleagues included researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Io
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SOURCE American Asthma Foundation
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