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Last Updated: Monday, 18 June 2007, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Gene defect find in asthma study
Asthma generic picture
The scientists hope their work will assist asthma treatment
Scientists in Dundee carrying out research into asthma believe they have made a breakthrough which could alter the treatment of the condition.

The University of Dundee team announced last year that they had identified the gene producing the protein filaggrin which causes asthma and eczema.

Through continuing research, they have now discovered that defects in the same gene could affect treatment.

This, they said, could lead to a big reduction in medication requirements.

The protein filaggrin is normally found in large quantities in the outermost layers of the skin - essentially keeping water in and foreign organisms out.

Our findings show that these gene defects that affect the skin barrier which filaggrin provides has a significant effect on day-to-day asthma morbidity and medication we use
Dr Somnath Mukhopadhyay

The latest discovery of defects in the gene has led the scientists, Dr Somnath Mukhopadhyay, Dr Colin Palmer and Professor Irwin McLean, to identify how it can determine the amount of treatment that a child or young adult with asthma needs on a day-to-day basis.

In a new paper published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the team show the defects in the gene can make asthma patients three to six times more likely to have to reach out for their inhaler every day.

These patients are more likely to need extra medicines on top of inhaled steroids to control their asthma.

'Reduce medication'

Dr Mukhopadhyay said: "Our findings show that these gene defects that affect the skin barrier which filaggrin provides has a significant effect on day-to-day asthma morbidity and medication we use.

"If these genetic skin barrier defects directly exacerbate asthma, young asthma sufferers who show these barrier defects may respond better to allergen withdrawal strategies.

"This would lead to a significant long-term reduction in asthma medication requirements."

The research was carried out on child asthma sufferers in Tayside with support from GPs in Dundee, Perth and Kinross, Angus and Fife.

Scotland has one of the highest rates of children's asthma in the world.




SEE ALSO
Question mark on asthma treatment
13 Jun 06 |  Tayside and Central
Grieving parents urge asthma care
22 May 06 |  Northern Ireland
Strategy for long-term illnesses
16 May 06 |  Scotland

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