Hope for Severe Asthma Sufferers
An immune response called Th17 has been shown for the first time to play a key role in triggering asthma. Researchers at King's College in London say that Th17, which is coordinated by a type of white blood cell that produces lung-damaging molecules, produces structural changes and thickening of the airways. A release from the college reports that these changes make the lungs susceptible to severe asthma attacks by disrupting the control mechanisms that prevent asthma in healthy individuals. The study was published in the journal Mucosal Immunology.
Previously, only Th2 had been known to trigger asthma. The researchers wrote: "Using Th17-deficient mice with genetic disruption of gp130 in T cells, we showed that Th17 cells induce airway remodeling independent of the Th2 response."
The release quotes lead researcher Dr. Alistair Noble as saying, "We’re extremely excited about the results of this research, as they point to immune signals that could be targeted to reduce airway remodeling. This could guide the use of new medicines that block the Th17 response in certain groups of people with severe asthma." Dr. Noble and his team say that these groups include patients who do not respond to treatment with steroids.