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Personalized therapy for asthma and COPD could soon be here
Date:5/18/2008

St. Louis, May 18, 2008 Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have defined a new type of immune response that is activated in patients with severe asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Their discovery could dramatically improve diagnosis and treatment of patients with chronic inflammatory lung disease.

"We've cracked the first part of the molecular code that links a viral infection to the later development of chronic inflammatory diseases like asthma and COPD," says senior author Michael Holtzman, M.D., the Selma and Herman Seldin Professor of Medicine, director of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and a pulmonary specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "With this information, we can more precisely diagnose and monitor these types of diseases and then better target our treatment to specific abnormalities. That's a big step forward from simply monitoring breathing status."

The findings, published online May 18, 2008, in Nature Medicine, promise a way to determine whether a patient's asthma or COPD is the result of a chronic immune response that can be turned on by a respiratory viral infection. Guided by these new findings, this type of immune response could be detected by monitoring specific types of inflammatory cells or molecules in the lung or potentially in the bloodstream, giving physicians a more precise approach to diagnosis and treatment of lung disease.

This type of testing could eventually tell physicians whether a patient's condition is mild, moderate or severe, as well as track the effectiveness of treatment. It could also lead to the development of new types of drugs that target the underlying cause of inflammatory lung disease.

"With our results, we can now work on developing more rational ways to diagnose and monitor lung conditions such as asthma and COPD," Holtzman says. "As it stands now, the diagnosis of chronic lung disease generally depends on clinical jud
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Contact: Gwen Ericson
ericsong@wustl.edu
314-286-0141
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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