Researchers Uncover Cause of Asthma

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Researchers Uncover Cause of Asthma

Natural killer cells leave people breathless

... Quote:
Medical experts have been baffled by what causes asthma. Most of them favor the idea that it stems from "helper" cells that have gone awry. But researchers at Harvard Medical School (HMS) have come up with convincing evidence that the answer lies in a special type of natural "killer" cell.

"We were very, very surprised," admits Dale Umetsu, a professor of pediatrics at the Medical School and at Harvard-affiliated Children's Hospital in Boston. "People have been confused about which cells in the lungs are responsible for all these years. Now, we have to rethink the results of so many studies. Our new findings were totally unexpected."

An estimated 17 million-20 million people in the United States suffer from asthma, and cases of it have been increasing since the early 1980s, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Every day, in this country, 30,000 people suffer an asthma attack, and 14 people die from the disease.

So, knowing exactly which cells should be targeted for treatment is a vital part of relieving a lot of misery for lots of people.

Asthma occurs when the body's natural system of defense against bacteria, viruses, and other harmful microbes becomes overprotective. It misidentifies relatively harmless pollens, dust, and dander, setting up a reaction that narrows and inflames small airways in the lungs. From that comes breathlessness, wheezing, tissue damage, and, in the worst cases, death.

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Researchers uncover the real cause of asthma and find out the medication in inhalers is resisted by T cells, which doesn't help asthma sufferers.
By YCON: posted on 18-3-2006








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