New drug for asthma offers hope for patients of the killer disease

February 13, 2018  13:04

A new treatment could be on the way for the 300 million people worldwide who suffer from asthma. 

According to The Daily Mail, researchers at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, in collaboration with a team in Shanghai, believe it may even improve upon inhalers.

They analysed more than 6,000 compounds to discover whether one might offer an improvement on current treatment.

The four year study found the presence of a certain protein, MT-2 (metallothionein-2), was not as present in the lungs of mice suffering from asthma.

Mice without the protein were twice as likely to have asthma. However, treatment with the protein helped to relieve their symptoms.

'We found TSG12 is both non-toxic and more effective' 

With these results, the team developed a new drug from MT-2, which they called TSG12.

The new TSG12 treatment works the same way as standard treatments: it relaxes the airway muscles and expanded the various channels in the lungs, making breathing easier.

However, importantly, it is not toxic to human cells.

'We found that the TSG12 used in the study is both non-toxic and more effective in reducing pulmonary resistance and could be a promising therapeutic approach for treating asthma, without losing their effectiveness overtime,' lead author, Dr Luis Ulloa, said.

'We hope this will give patients a better option'

At the moment, the majority of people use some drug derived from beta-2 agonists, like Salbutamol.

But these can become ineffective over time, and they have side effects, like making the immune system less effective, and thereby making it easier for people to catch new infections.

Currently there aren't many alternative treatments, and as a result, over two million people every year are sent to the emergency room in the US because of their asthma.   

'It is not a cure, but I think this treatment will give people a lot of hope,' Dr Ulloa said.

'There are a growing number of patients with no alternative because the current treatments either have critical side effects or aren't working. 

'We hope this will give patients a better option.' 

Another danger of bronchodilators, like inhalers, work for the majority, there are an estimated one third who do react as well to these kinds of treatment. 

Furthermore, the way these treatments work is not well understood, says Dr Ulloa, and this makes it difficult to derive more advanced treatments from them. 

According to Asthma UK, 5.4 million people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma, a fifth of which are children (1 in 11). 

In 2016, 1,410 people died from the disease.  

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