Potential treatment for asthma?
A team from Imperial College London found that blocking sensory nerve functions stopped a “late asthmatic response” in mice and rats, the 'Thorax' journal reported.
The researchers say the late asthmatic response happens because the allergen triggers sensory nerves in the airways. These nerves then set off a chain reaction which causes the release of neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which causes the airways to narrow.
If these findings translate to humans, it will mean that drugs that block acetylcholine can be used to treat asthma patients who suffer from delayed attacks.
Around half of people with asthma experience delayed symptoms. These attacks can often happen at night, three to eight hours after the sufferer comes into contact with grass pollen or house-dust mites, for example.
Prof Maria Belvisi, who led the team, said they realised the importance of sensory nerves in triggering symptoms by chance. “We wanted to do the research on anaesthetised rats, but we couldn't because the late response had been blocked by
anaesthetising them. We stumbled upon it. Now we want to work out how allergens trigger these nerves, because we don't know the exact connections," he was quoted by the BBC as saying.
The data produced by the study suggests that anticholinergic therapy may be effective in patients that observe a late phase response to allergen.
The study was funded by the Medical Research Council.
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