Wednesday February 26, 2020

Gene Therapy: Scientists may have found a way to ‘turn off’ Asthma!

Asthma is a major chronic disease that makes it difficult to breathe properly. Scientists using 'Gene Therapy' may 'turn off' Asthma

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FILE - A person uses an inhaler to cope with asthma. VOA
  • Asthma is a noncommunicable disease which narrows the air passage to the lungs causing difficulty in breathing.
  • Some 235 million people currently suffer from this chronic disease. 
  • It is a common disease among children. 

What is it? 

Asthma restricts a person’s ability to breathe. The inflammation narrows the extent of the air passage. It is a common disease in many parts of the world. Nearly 300 people suffer from Asthma according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. 250,000 are estimated to die from the disease. Asthma patients experience tightness in chest, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing.

What are the recent developments?

The problem with Asthma and allergies as such is that the immune cells (also called the T-cells) are very resistant to treatments. That is because they have immune memory. Previously, scientists looked at nanoparticles so as to smuggle the allergen past the immune system. Now, scientists are able to wipe off the memory of these T-cells with gene therapy.

Diagrammatic representation of Asthma. Wikimedia

A research done at the University of Queensland led by Associate Professor Ray Steptoe shows some promising results. Dr. Steptoe has his lab at the Translational Research Institute.

The team of scientists took blood stem cells, inserted the gene that regulates allergen protein and then put it into the recipient. The gene produces cells that ‘turn off’ allergic responses in the recipient.

Through the experiment, scientists successfully terminated any allergic response by the body.

What the future holds?

This study was centered around Asthma. The results have encouraged the scientists to apply the study to provide protection against other common allergies- peanuts, bee venom, shellfish, etc.

Another challenge for the study ahead is an attempt to turn off multiple responses because there may be several proteins one might be allergic to.

 

Next Story

Early Exposure of Infants To Household Cleaning Products Can Make Them Prone To Asthma

Reading labels on cleaning products and choosing those that are not sprayed or contain volatile organic compounds will help minimise a child's exposure and balance the risk associated with using cleaning products in an effort to achieve a mould-free, low-allergen home

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Baby
The researchers hypothesize that chemicals in cleaning products may damage the respiratory lining by triggering inflammatory pathways of the immune system, leading to asthma and wheeze in Babies. Pixabay

Early exposure of babies to household cleaning products is associated with the development of childhood asthma and wheeze by age 3 years, a new study suggests.

“Our study looked at infants, who typically spend 80 per cent-90 per cent of their time indoors and are especially vulnerable to chemical exposures through the lungs and skin due to their higher respiration rates and regular contact with household surfaces,” said study lead researcher Tim Takaro from Simon Fraser University in Canada.

For the findings, published in the journal CMAJ, researchers looked at data from questionnaires completed by parents of 2022 children in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Cohort Study who were exposed to cleaning products from birth to age 3-4 months. Participants in the CHILD Cohort Study were recruited from mostly urban centres in 4 provinces: Vancouver, BC; Edmonton, Alberta; Winnipeg, Morden and Winkler, Manitoba; and Toronto, Ontario.

The children were then assessed at age 3 years to determine whether they had asthma, recurrent wheeze or atopy (allergic sensitisation). The most common cleaning products used were hand dishwashing soap, dishwasher detergent, multisurface cleaners, glass cleaners and laundry soap.

The researchers found an association between early exposure to cleaning products and risk of asthma and wheeze. According to the study, scented and sprayed cleaning products were associated with the highest risk of respiratory issues.

Baby
Early exposure of babies to household cleaning products is associated with the development of childhood asthma and wheeze by age 3 years, a new study suggests. Pixabay

The researchers hypothesize that chemicals in cleaning products may damage the respiratory lining by triggering inflammatory pathways of the immune system, leading to asthma and wheeze.

The modulation of the infant’s microbiome may also play a role, the study said. “These findings add to our understanding of how early life exposures are associated with the development of allergic airway disease, and identify household cleaning behaviours as a potential area for intervention,” said study lead author Jaclyn Parks.

ALSO READ: Xiaomi Works To Make “Smart Masks” That Collect Air Data in Real-Time

Reading labels on cleaning products and choosing those that are not sprayed or contain volatile organic compounds will help minimise a child’s exposure and balance the risk associated with using cleaning products in an effort to achieve a mould-free, low-allergen home, the study said. (IANS)