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Cincinnnati scientists pursue new target for asthma treatment

Cincinnati scientists have found further evidence that certain defensive white cells in the body cause or play a major role in the symptoms experienced by asthma patients.

Their findings, scientists say, could lead to the identification of a new treatment "target" to help the estimated 17 million asthma sufferers in the United States.

The scientists, at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Academic Health Center and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, report their results in the October 31, 2006 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Working with genetically altered mice, the Cincinnati researchers studied a group of cells called eosinophils. Originally evolved to defend the body against parasite infection, a problem no longer common in the Western world, eosinophils are known to accumulate during allergic responses--and especially in mucous in the lungs of asthma patients.

"Researchers have been looking at the role of eosinophils in asthma for decades," says research associate and first author Patricia Fulkerson, PhD. "Since people in the Western world don't have parasites in their guts to the extent they used to, the question is what eosinophils do now?"

"Previous studies linking eosinophils to asthma were done in single models," Fulkerson explains. "We increased the power of our study by looking at multiple models, and by doing that we show a strong role for eosinophils in mucous production in asthma."

The researchers, led by Professor Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD, of UC College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, also showed that eosinophils contribute to the recruitment of the immunity-regulating proteins known as cytokines, a process that allows mucous to accumulate in the lung.

"Previously most scientists looked at one model at a time--eliminating as many eosinophils as possible, inducing each model with asthma, and then watching what ha
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Contact: David Bracey
david.bracey@uc.edu
513-558-4559
University of Cincinnati
20-Nov-2006


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