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Work in cells, animals, patients reveals toxin's role in asthma
Date:12/14/2011

SAN ANTONIO -- Five years ago, microbiologists at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio discovered the toxin produced by a common respiratory bacterial pathogen, Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Joel Baseman, Ph.D., who led the discovery, said at the time that the toxin's presence in humans could be causing as many as 40 percent of all asthma cases.

Today there is a rising tide of evidence suggesting this is true. Dr. Baseman's colleagues in the School of Medicine at the Health Science Center are conducting clinical studies that indicate the CARDS toxin short for Community-Acquired Respiratory Distress Syndrome toxin is indeed initiating and intensifying asthma and other allergic airway diseases.

NIAID, Kleberg Foundation support

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) this year awarded $11.5 million to fund further investigations led by Dr. Baseman, who directs the NIAID-sponsored San Antonio Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Center. "This award puts us in the top 10 centers in the country in the study of asthma and airway disease," Dr. Baseman said. "Obviously the NIAID thinks this work is novel, impactful and important."

The Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation also provides critical support to pursue innovative vaccine- and diagnostic-related research on the M. pneumoniae CARDS toxin and to translate these efforts into improved health in South Texas populations and worldwide. The National Trauma Institute sponsors aspects of these studies, as well.

Drug discovery and other investigations

The interdisciplinary research program, entirely conducted at the Health Science Center, involves microbiologists, immunologists, biochemists, adult practice physicians, pediatricians, pathologists and trauma surgeons. The faculty physicians provide care through UT Medicine San Antonio, the clinical practice of the School of Medicine.

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Contact: Will Sansom
sansom@uthscsa.edu
210-567-2579
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Source:Eurekalert  

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