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

p>One research group explores how the CARDS toxin interacts with the respiratory epithelium, the lining of the airway, leading to abnormal lung function. Others examine diagnostic aspects, drug discovery, and vaccine candidates that will alleviate asthma and other pulmonary conditions.

Once M. pneumoniae is in the lungs and airway, it stays there producing the CARDS toxin. "It's a persistent infection that causes inflammation, and we're just scratching the surface of how important this chronic infectious state is and how it could lead to long-term complications," Dr. Baseman said. "It may go well beyond asthma and allergy. If we are correct, this toxin is having a huge impact on acute and chronic lung disease globally."

Detection in children with asthma

Edward Brooks, M.D., a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases in the School of Medicine, is part of a team that enrolled 150 children divided into three groups: some with chronic, treatment-resistant asthma, some with acute symptoms requiring hospitalization, and some healthy controls. "One goal was to determine the frequency of M. pneumoniae infection in children with asthma," Dr. Brooks said. "Dr. Baseman's group has developed blood assays that are much more sensitive for detecting it. With the discovery of the CARDS toxin and the sensitive assays, we are able to much better detect whether a child has become infected with mycoplasma and whether it causes or worsens asthma symptoms."

The clinical core, led by Jay Peters, M.D., and other center collaborators, published a recent study on adult asthmatics in the journal Chest and will soon publish results on children. The researchers found chronic M. pneumoniae infections in all age groups, particularly in individuals with refractory asthma, the most difficult cases to manage. "Now it is hard to ignore that this is a bad toxin," Dr. Brooks said. "It is not just hanging out, doing nothing."

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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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