Inhalers aren't always enough for asthma sufferers. Though they manage some patients symptoms, many don't respond to them at all. But a new drug breakthrough may be the key to curing the chronic disease completely.
Scientists at Cardiff University and Kings College London believe they have found the cells responsible for inflaming air passage ways, as well as a class of drug, generally used to treat osteoporosis, that can deactivate those cells. According to the study, published recently in Science Translational Medicine, calcium-sensing receptor cells are responsible for attacks. When those cells were exposed to irritants or changes in the environment, they caused airway passages to close up. Calcilytic drugs were shown to deactivate the irritated cells and stop inflammation.
"If we can prove that calcilytics are safe when administered directly to the lung then in five years we could be in a position to treat patients and potentially stop asthma from happening in the first place," explains Daniela Riccardi, a professor at Cardiff University's School of Biosciences. That means that long-term sufferers might finally be able to throw away their inhalers.
Researchers are hopeful that they'll be able to begin clinical trials on the drug soon. "If this research proves successful, we may be just a few years away from a new treatment for asthma," says Dr. Samantha Walker, the Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK. "[But] we urgently need further investment to take it further through clinical trials."