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Possible key to chronic asthma

[Posted: Tue 16/06/2009 by Olivia Fens]

Scientists believe that they have discovered a key element in the development of chronic asthma, which may lead to new treatments.

UK researchers found that people with chronic asthma have ‘remodelled’ airways, which are more muscular and sensitive to allergens, such as dust, pollen and mould.

Airway remodelling can even be seen in the lungs of young children with asthma, and can make the condition almost impossible to control, the researchers from King’s College London and Imperial College London said.

However, the researchers found that the key to this remodelling process was a calcium pump called SERCA2.

They found that in people with moderate asthma, SERCA2 levels were reduced lowering the cells’ capacity to remove calcium which then enables the muscles in the airways to relax.

The researchers added that replacing SERCA2 in these cells might reduce asthma symptoms and prevent long-term lung damage.

“'This research provides us with vital clues as to how asthma symptoms could be stopped and it has uncovered important information, which we hope will lead to the creation of effective new treatments,” said Dr Elaine Vickers from Asthma UK, who supported the study.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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