Researchers have stated that a drug, which was originally designed to treat the bone disease osteoporosis, could lead to a new cure for asthma.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), asthma affects nearly 300 million people worldwide. While it is well controlled in some people, around one-in-twelve patients respond poorly to current treatments.
Researchers from the Cardiff University in Wales and King’s College London in England have found the root cause of asthma that could lead to a cure for asthma within five years. They have discovered that a protein could be at the root of the condition. They found that an overactive calcium sensing receptor (CaSR) reacts to environmental triggers like allergens, cigarette smoke and car fumes, inflaming and narrowing the airway, and eventually causing the potentially fatal symptoms of asthma.
Daniela Riccardi, a researcher from Cardiff University, and the lead author of the study, said, “The findings are completely unexpected. I previously worked on investigating the role of this particular sensor in other conditions, such as osteoporosis, before we found that this sensor was present in the airways. The triggers release chemicals that activate a sensor in the airways — if we can block these sensors we can prevent all the symptoms. We knew these chemicals were released during asthma attacks, but didn’t know how they worked and didn’t have the drug target that could prevent all of these symptoms. Now we know exactly how they work, we can prevent all of these symptoms.”
The researchers stated that the findings also highlight the effectiveness of a class of drugs known as calcilytics in manipulating CaSR to reverse all symptoms associated with the condition.
“Our paper shows how these triggers release chemicals that activate CaSR in airway tissue and drive asthma symptoms like airway twitchiness, inflammation, and narrowing. Using calcilytics, nebulised directly into the lungs, we know that it is possible to deactivate CaSR and prevent all of these symptoms,” added Riccardi.
The findings were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.