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New treatment ‘find’ for late asthma attacks

Published on 15/08/2011
A team of scientists from Imperial College London have discovered a potential new treatment for delayed asthma attacks which could help private medical cover holders.

Writing in the journal Thorax, researchers found that blocking sensory nerve functions stopped a ‘late’ asthmatic response in mice and rats.

Around half of people with asthma experience symptoms several hours after exposure to allergens. These attacks often happen at night, three to eight hours after the sufferer comes into contact with allergens in the environment.

Researchers say that this happens because the allergen triggers sensory nerves in the airways. These triggered nerves cause the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which causes the airways to narrow.

Scientists found that drugs called anti-cholinergics block this neurotransmitter. If these findings translate to humans then it can be used to treat asthma patients who suffer delayed attacks.

Charity Asthma UK says an estimated 300 million people suffer from asthma. Private medical cover holders with the condition are currently being treated with steroids, but they are not effective for all patients.

Recent separate clinical studies also show that by adding an anti-cholinergic to a steroid inhaler improved symptoms and lung function in asthma patients.

Dr Samantha Walker, director of research and policy at the charity, said: "This research seeks to understand the causes of chronic asthma symptoms and may pave the way for identifying new treatments for people with asthma in the future."

The study was funded by the Medical Research Council.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2011

Categories:  Medical
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