Asthma could be cured within five years after scientists discovered what causes the condition and how to switch it off.
In a breakthrough which could change the lives of Britain’s five million sufferers, researchers at Cardiff University and Kings College London identified which cells cause the airways to narrow when triggered by irritants like pollution.
Crucially, drugs already exist which can deactivate the cells. They are known as calcilytics and are used to treat people with osteoporosis.
The scientists are hopeful that in the future asthmatics take the drug to prevent an attack ever happening and ending the need to constantly carry an inhaler.
“Our findings are incredibly exciting,” said Professor Daniela Riccardi, from Cardiff University School of Biosciences.
“If we can prove that calcilytics are safe when administered directly to the lung in people, then in five years we could be in a position to treat patients and potentially stop asthma from happening in the first place.”
Asthma is a debilitating long-term condition which can cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness. Although inhalers can manage the problem, some people do not respond to current treatments.
Scientists knew that asthma was caused by inflammation in the small tubes which carry air and out of the lungs, but did not know what was triggering it.
However experiments on mice and human airway tissue found that calcium sensing receptor (CaSR ) cells – which detect changes in the environment – go into overdrive in asthmatics, triggering airway twitching, inflammation, and narrowing.
But when calcilytic drugs are inhaled, it deactivates the cells and stops all symptoms.
Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, who helped fund the research, said:
“This hugely exciting discovery enables us, for the first time, to tackle the underlying causes of asthma symptoms.
“Five per cent of people with asthma don’t respond to current treatments so research breakthroughs could be life changing for hundreds of thousands of people.
“If this research proves successful we may be just a few years away from a new treatment for asthma, and we urgently need further investment to take it further through clinical trials.
“Asthma research is chronically underfunded; there have only been a handful of new treatments developed in the last 50 years so the importance of investment in research like this is absolutely essential.”
The Latest on: Calcilytics
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The Latest on: Calcilytics
- Asthma Treatment's Significant Unmet Needs May be Addressed By Calcilytics, Says GBI Researchon November 22, 2016 at 6:02 am
Associate Analyst Callum Dew notes: "A number of studies have now begun to demonstrate the direct relationship between calcium sensing receptors (CaSR) inhibition - through the use of calcilytics ...
- Drs. Oz and Roizen: Be cautious about new asthma treatmenton May 22, 2015 at 4:59 pm
They also found that a class of drugs called calcilytics (the same ones that were investigated to treat osteoporosis) can deactivate calcium sensor receptors and stop airways from twitching ...
- Calcilytics may help asthmatics breathe easieron April 27, 2015 at 5:00 pm
Indeed, extracellular calcium and other asthma-associated activators of CaSR increased airway hyperreactivity. Moreover, calcilytics—CaSR antagonists—prevented calcium-induced airway hyperreactivity ...
- Cure for asthma likely in 5 years as root cause foundon April 23, 2015 at 5:56 pm
They found that the drugs, known as calcilytics, can reverse all symptoms associated with the condition that affects 300m people globally. Researchers at Cardiff University, King’s College ...
- Calcilytics for asthma reliefon April 23, 2015 at 5:00 pm
CaSR activity also facilitates inflammatory cell infiltration into the lung (not shown). Calcilytics block the CaSR, and may represent an inhalable agent to treat asthma. IP 3, inositol ...
- Drug Breakthrough Could Lead To Asthma Cure Within Five Yearson April 23, 2015 at 12:17 pm
The drugs that disable these cells are called calcilytics, and they have long been available as a treatment for osteoporosis. Calcilytics can additionally eliminate asthma symptoms if they are ...
- Could the end of asthma be in sight?on April 23, 2015 at 12:11 pm
Using mouse models of asthma and human airway tissue from both asthmatics and non-asthmatics, the team discovered that a class of drugs called calcilytics effectively reversed all symptoms. At the ...
- Scientists Discover Source Of Asthma, New Drugs Could Be 5 Years Awayon April 23, 2015 at 3:10 am
According to the findings of the study, a class of drugs known as calcilytics affects the CaSR and reverses the reactions that cause asthmatic symptoms. Calcilytics were originally developed as a ...
- British scientists believe Asthma could be cured within five years after drug breakthroughon April 22, 2015 at 4:29 pm
"If we can prove that calcilytics [ which can be used to treat osteoporosis] are safe when administered directly to the lung in people, then in five years we could be in a position to treat ...
- Scientists discover asthma's potential root cause and a novel treatmenton April 22, 2015 at 11:27 am
Crucially, the paper highlights the effectiveness of a class of drugs known as calcilytics in manipulating CaSR to reverse all symptoms associated with the condition. These symptoms include airway ...
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