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Vitamin supplement could help treatment-resistant asthma

atment by producing IL-10 to the same extent as T-cells taken from steroid-responsive patients.

Adding vitamin D3 to cultures of T-cells from healthy individuals or from steroid-responsive patients made these cells even more responsive to steroids than before.

Dr Catherine Hawrylowicz, who led the King's research team said: 'The hope is that this work will lead to new ways to treat people who don't respond to steroid treatment as it currently stands, and it could also help those people who are on heavy doses of steroids to reduce the amount of medication they are taking.'

To test whether this therapy could work in practice the team at King's went on to perform a pilot experiment where people with asthma who were unresponsive to steroids took daily vitamin D3 supplements for seven days. The researchers took blood samples to assess whether the patients' T-cells were more responsive to dexamethasone after they had taken the supplement. The test results were positive.

Dr Hawrylowicz said: 'This is a great example of how productive basic science collaborations can translate into studies in patients. Our research began more than five years ago with Dr Anne O'Garra from the MRC National Institute for Medical Research at Mill Hill.'

She added: 'At the moment we only have a preliminary experimental observation, that ingestion of vitamin D3 can increase the responsiveness of T-cells from patients with steroid-resistant asthma to steroids. We now need to test the benefits of this treatment in the clinic, and we are currently putting a proposal together to carry out this work.

'Interestingly, vitamin D3 is at present occasionally administered to patients with severe asthma to help prevent steroid-induced osteoporosis. Our studies suggest that there is an additional potential benefit to this treatment.'

Dr. Lyn Smurthwaite, Research Development Manager at Asthma UK said: '2.6 million people in the UK have severe asthma s
'"/>

Contact: Gemma Bradley
pr@kcl.ac.uk
44-207-848-4334
King's College London
8-Dec-2005


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