Saturday December 16, 2017

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.

 

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Kidney disease may increase the risk of Diabetes: says a study

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Kidney disease may increase the risk of diabetes.
Kidney disease may increase the risk of diabetes. IANS

New York, Dec 12: If you are suffering from kidney dysfunction, you may be at high risk of developing diabetes, finds a study.

The risk may be attributed to the rising level of urea — the nitrogen-containing waste product in blood, which comes from the breakdown of protein in foods.

Kidneys normally remove urea from the blood, but it can build up when kidney function slows down, resulting in greater insulin resistance as well as secretion in the body.

“We have known for a long time that diabetes is a major risk factor for kidney disease, but now we have a better understanding that kidney disease, through elevated levels of urea, also raises the risk of diabetes,” said the Ziyad Al-Aly, Assistant Professor at the Washington University in St. Louis.

“When urea builds up in the blood because of kidney dysfunction, it often results in increased insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion,” Ziyad added.

The findings, published in the journal Kidney International, are significant because urea levels can be lowered through medication, diet — for example, by eating less protein — and other means, thereby allowing for improved treatment and possible prevention of diabetes, the researchers said.

For the study, the team evaluated the records of 1.3 million adults without diabetes over a five-year period, beginning in 2003.

Out of these, 117,000 of those without diabetes — or 9 per cent — had elevated urea levels, signalling poor kidney function and were at 23 per cent higher risk of developing diabetes. (IANS)

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Asthma Afflicted Children Are Prescribed Unwanted Antibiotics: Study

The findings showed that asthma symptoms are often mistaken for a respiratory tract infection and are given antibiotics as a preventative measure

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Antibiotics
Neutral background picture with asthma medicine. Wikimedia

London, Sep 11, 2017: Children suffering from asthma are unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics for treatment even though guidelines do not support this, new research shows.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.

The findings showed that asthma symptoms are often mistaken for a respiratory tract infection and are given antibiotics as a preventative measure.

Also Read: New Technology to Predict Asthma Attacks in Children: Researchers 

Overuse of antibiotics in children can lead to drug-resistant infections, as well as leave kids at high risk of a future infection that is difficult to treat, the researchers warned.

“International and national guidelines clearly state that antibiotics should not be given for a deterioration in asthma symptoms, because this is rarely associated with a bacterial infection,” Esme Baan from the Erasmus University, in the Netherlands.

“Inappropriate use of antibiotics can be bad for individual patients and the entire population, and makes it harder to control the spread of untreatable infections.”

The researchers found that children with asthma were approximately 1.6 times more likely to be prescribed antibiotics, compared to children who do not have asthma.

“Antibiotics should only be given when there is clear evidence of a bacterial infection such as for pneumonia,” Baan said.

“However, we saw that, in children with asthma, most of the antibiotic prescriptions in children were intended for asthma exacerbations or bronchitis, which are often caused by a virus rather than bacteria.”

For the study, presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress 2017 in Italy, the team included 1.5 million children from the UK, including around 150,000 with asthma, and a further 375,000 from The Netherlands, including around 30,000 with asthma.

Antibiotic prescription rates were almost two-fold higher in the UK overall. In both countries, amoxicillin was the most commonly used antibiotic. (IANS)

One response to “Asthma Afflicted Children Are Prescribed Unwanted Antibiotics: Study”

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Research Reveals That Breastfeeding Can Protect Your Child From Asthma Exacerbation

Research has revealed that children who are breastfed have a 45% lower risk of asthma exacerbation later in life

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Breastfeeding can protect your child from Asthma.
Breastfeeding can protect your child from Asthma. Pixabay
  • Breastfeeding creates a protective shield for your child against various diseases
  • A child suffering from Asthma who was breastfed is less prone to Asthma aggravation
  • Breastfeeding strengthens child’s immunity system by providing all necessary nutrients, minerals, antibodies to the child

Washington D.C., September 4, 2017: When a baby is born, the initial few months are very crucial for the baby’s immunity system. Research says that breast milk develops the immunity system of a child and this immune system protects the child from various health problem throughout his life.

A research was conducted on 960 children aged between 4 to 12 years who were consuming regular asthma medicines.

According to the analysis made on the children suffering from asthma, those children who had been breastfed had a 45% lower risk of asthma exacerbations later in life as compared with children who had not been breastfed.

Dr. Anke Maitland-van der Zee, the senior author of the study, said that although breastfeeding can be seen as a protective factor for asthma exacerbation, the causal relation is still unclear.

According to another research conducted by Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, children who were fed other milk or solids in addition to breast milk in first 4 months had an increased risk of wheezing, dry cough, and persistent phlegm as compared to children who were exclusively breastfed in their first 4 months.

In the early stage of life, changes in the composition and activity of the gut microbiome influence the immune system and these changes might indirectly lead to changes in asthma later in life.

Scientifically, the causal relationship between breast feeding and asthma is not still unknown. But research says that breast feeding plays a vital role in developing a child’s immune and respiratory system. So, in this way, breast feeding does reduce the child’s vulnerability towards Asthma.

-prepared by Shivani Chowdhary of NewsGram. Twitter handle: @cshivani31