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Study indicates different treatment may be needed for infection-related breathing problems

DALLAS Jan. 31, 2007 New research suggests that different treatments may be needed for chronic asthma, depending on whether it results from allergies or lung infections.

Previous studies have shown that certain lung infections such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae can linger on and contribute to a person later experiencing symptoms of asthma.

Researchers have now identified a particular gene that influences how severe a M. pneumoniae infection may be, which in turn suggests that a different strategy might be needed for treating asthma resulting from this and similar lung infections rather than allergies.

"What this shows is that infectious asthma might have a different mechanism than allergic asthma. Most people think asthma is asthma, but it may be multifaceted," said Dr. Robert Hardy, an infectious disease specialist at UT Southwestern.

That's an important implication because the latest statistics show that asthma is on the rise. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 20 million Americans currently have asthma and another 10 million have been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their life. Roughly 6.5 million American children, or nearly 9 percent of the nation's pre-adult population, have asthma, figures released in December show.

Dr. Hardy, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics, has been using mice to study how certain pneumonia bacteria contribute to chronic asthma and, in this latest study, identified how a particular gene may contribute to more severe lung infection. The research appears in the January edition of Infection and Immunity.

Pneumonia is a lung infection typically characterized by breathing difficulties and spread by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms often include headache, fever, chills, coughs, chest pains, sore throat and nausea. Dr. Hardy's research involves pneumonia caused by the bacterium M. pneumo
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Contact: Russell Rian
russell.rian@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
31-Jan-2007


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