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Asthma Breakthrough: Scientists Identify New Source of Lung Damage

Asthma Breakthrough: Scientists Identify New Source
Getty Getty
Asthma Breakthrough: Scientists Identify New Source
Getty Getty

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Asthma Breakthrough: Scientists Identify New Source of Lung Damage

UK scientists have identified a new mechanism contributing to the damage caused by asthma, revealing that cells lining the airways are squeezed to destruction during an asthma attack.

According to researchers from King’s College London, the squeezing of airway-lining cells plays a significant role in the harm caused by asthma attacks. This discovery suggests that targeting this mechanism with preventative drugs could disrupt the cycle of damage associated with asthma, as opposed to solely managing its aftermath.

Asthma, a condition characterized by sensitive airways prone to inflammation and swelling in response to triggers like pollen and pets, can lead to symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness.

While existing medications and inhalers can mitigate inflammation and keep the airways open, repeated asthma attacks can result in permanent scarring and narrowing of the airways.

During an asthma attack, the smooth muscle surrounding the airways tightens and constricts, a process known as bronchoconstriction. The King’s College London team found that this bronchoconstriction damages the lining of the airways, leading to chronic inflammation, impaired wound healing, and increased susceptibility to infections, all of which contribute to further asthma attacks.

Lead researcher Prof Jody Rosenblatt emphasized the importance of addressing this overlooked aspect of airway damage during asthma attacks, highlighting the potential to prevent attacks altogether by blocking this damage.

The researchers are exploring gadolinium, an element that shows promise in preventing airway-lining damage in mice, as a potential preventive treatment. However, further research is needed to determine its safety and efficacy in humans, a process that could take several years.

Dr. Samantha Walker, research and innovation director at Asthma and Lung UK, described the discovery as opening doors to explore new treatment options urgently needed for people with asthma. She emphasized the importance of continuing to use prescribed asthma medications correctly and seeking medical advice if symptoms persist, underscoring the need for ongoing research to develop more effective treatments for asthma.


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