Why a simple cold could trigger a deadly asthma attack


British scientists may have solved how a simple cold can start a deadly asthma attack.

They have indicated how asthmatics produce more of a chemical which boosts the immune system.

This new discovery by Imperial College and Kings College London could result in new drugs to control these deadly attacks more effectively.

According to Dr Samantha Walker from Asthma UK that offered part-funding for the research, asthma is still a mystery and the millions of asthmatics need more of this type of study to move a step close to new treatments.

Around 5.5 million Britons are currently receiving treatment for asthma. This transcribes to one in every 12 adults and one in every 11 children.

Although the condition can be controlled by using steroid inhalers on a daily basis, the flare-ups are the difficult part and results in the death of almost 1200 people annually in the UK.

Many of the deadly attacks are triggered by the common cold and scientists believe they have discovered the reason for this.

They have found that when people suffer from a cold, asthmatics produce more of the immune chemical called IL-25 than other people.

The IL-25 initiates the release of other damaging chemicals and it is believed these initiate the severe attacks.

The joint lead author of the study, Dr Nathan Bartlett from Imperial College London, said by targeting the molecule at the top of the chain, it may be possible to find a new treatment to control the trigger.

Professor Sebastian Johnston, the co-lead author, from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, said the new study has produced exciting results about possible ways of addressing this issue.

Image Credit: William Brawley


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