So what causes asthma? Asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways. The pulmonary system is made up of the lungs, the trachea or the windpipe and small tubes of bronchi that carry air from the nose to the lungs and vice versa. In people with asthma, the bronchi are more sensitive than usual and they may become inflamed with certain stimuli. These stimuli may cause irritation when you inhale an allergen or a trigger. After the contact, the airways become narrow and the muscle tighten. The bronchi then produces a sticky substance known as phlegm, which brings about more symptoms such as difficulty of breathing, chest tightness, wheezing and coughing. These symptoms are collectively known as an asthmatic attack or an acute asthma exacerbation. This requires immediate treatment and can be life-threatening when not treated immediately.
Asthma needs to be controlled, especially if it is occurring for a long time already. Long term untreated asthma may lead to long-term inflammation of the airways and more permanent narrowing. The diagnosis of asthma usually begins during childhood, with symptoms first appearing during this stage up to the teenage years. If there are moderate or severe symptoms, they are most likely to persist or be back later in life during adulthood. The exact cause of asthma is unknown however studies say that this disease usually runs in families.
There are some common triggers for asthma. These triggers usually irritate the airways and bring about asthma symptoms. Triggers may affect each person differently. Some common triggers include exercise, smoke, infections, cold air, pollen, animal fur, and house dust mites. The symptoms of asthma can also be made worse by certain activities such as exposure to latex, paint, sawdust, dust, too much heat or any work-related triggers. There is no exact cure for asthma, however, there are certain medications that can control this condition. Treatments usually relieve symptoms of asthma while preventing future attacks and symptoms. Thus it is important for scientists nowadays that they identify new targets for asthma.
New Targets for Asthma Drugs
A recent study has shown that an enzyme that helps maintain the body's immune system by eliminating a specific protein has an important role in controlling the symptoms of allergic asthma. This enzyme, called Cbl-b, could be a target for drugs used to treat allergic asthma and other autoimmune disorders. This study was done by researchers from Ohio State University and is published in the journal Cell reports.
In this study, mice were made as models for allergic asthma and were injected with a substance to incite an allergic response. The researchers found out that cells in these mice which lacked the Cbl-b enzyme were unable to send a protein called Stat6 to the biological garbage after its services were no longer needed. This results to the overactivity of two types of immune cells that soon lead to the inflammation of the airways of these mice. Those mice with normal functioning of the Cbl-b were shown to have less severe allergic asthma symptoms.
Cbl-b is said to be an important enzyme that helps keep the levels of proteins stable within cells of the immune response. This enzyme leads proteins which have finished their jobs into a space that functions as a garbage can, where they are degraded.
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