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Revealing Asthma’s Hidden Cycle of Damage: A Path to New Treatments

  • UK scientists identify bronchoconstriction-induced damage to airway lining as a significant cause of asthma exacerbation and long-term complications.
  • Potential breakthrough suggests drugs targeting this mechanism could prevent asthma attacks, but further research and clinical trials are needed before implementation.

UK scientists claim they have identified an unexpected cause behind much of the damage asthma causes.

Research by their group indicates that, under attack, cells lining the airways are crushed beyond repair.

Drugs designed to stop this cycle could break it, according to researchers from Kings College London who spoke with Science Journal.

People living with asthma have airways that are particularly sensitive to triggers like pollen, pets and exercise.

As your airways become inflamed and swollen, symptoms like coughing, wheezing and breathlessness appear. Existing medicines or inhalers may reduce inflammation to keep airways clearer for breathing.

However, repeated attacks can result in permanent scarring and narrowing of airways and can even obliterate their capacity altogether.

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When an attack of asthma begins, the smooth muscle surrounding airways tightens down in an episode known as bronchoconstriction causing your airway to constrict further and tighter resulting in reduced breathing ability or breathing altogether.

Kings College London team conducted in-depth studies of this process using mice and human lung-tissue samples, led by Prof Jody Rosenblatt as lead researcher. Prof Rosenblatt reported bronchoconstriction caused damage to airway lining which led to long-term inflammation, wound healing and infections – eventually leading to further attacks and subsequent attacks from infections that cause more attacks.

She told BBC News that this damage had gone undetected for quite some time.

Professor Rosenblatt noted, however, that asthma attacks cause damage to this barrier as its function as the first line of defense against infections is compromised.

“There’s this constant wounding going on – it’s an endless cycle.

“If we can block damage, our hope is that attacks might stop altogether,” researchers explained in their paper, noting they’re exploring gadolinium as one potential preventative treatment, with mice seeming to show marked improvement after taking gadolinium supplements.

However, much more work needs to be done before any clinical trials in humans can begin – which will take years of investigation and study.

Dr Samantha Walker of Asthma and Lung UK’s research and innovation department stated: “This discovery opens important new pathways towards finding effective treatment options desperately required by those living with asthma.

Charity officials emphasize it’s essential for those with asthma to use their prescribed medications correctly; many should be able to go about their lives unimpeded by symptoms; if anyone still experiencing issues it’s crucial they consult their healthcare provider as soon as possible.

“Because existing asthma treatments don’t meet everyone’s needs, funding research into new solutions that better tackle asthma is of vital importance.

Over five million people in the UK suffer from asthma; roughly one out of every 12 adults and 11 out of 11 children.

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