London – Studies have defined a new type of protected response in patients with harsh asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) – a finding that could pave way for the growth of personalized therapy for the condition.
“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,” said Michael Holtzman
“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,” he said.
The immune retort can be recognized by examining specific types of inflammatory cells or molecules in the lung or potentially in the bloodstream. It would provide physicians with a more precise way of diagnosis and treatment of 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,” said Holtzman.
The team led by Holtzman exposed a viral remnant of a common type of viral infection that urge a chronic immune retort. Guided by the response, cells in the lung passages overproduce mucus and become over-reactive to irritants.
The study in mice infected with a respiratory virus showed that when the mice got over the infection, they were left with chronic airway disease described by mucus production and augmented airway reactivity to an inhaled irritant.
The researchers found production of a influential natural inflammatory substance interleukin-13 (IL-13) as a key to chronic disease.
“Now, we have identified two new immune pathways that lead to chronic lung disease, and we already have proof for additional pathways,” said Holtzman.
“Our goal is to find distinct biological markers for each pathway. This will tell us how to diagnose and what to treat,'” he commented.