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Monday, May 30, 2011

Australia : Study reveals asthma's viral trigger

Via ABC Science :

" For more than one in ten Australians, the cold winter months, typified by increased bouts of colds and sniffles, bring on an additional challenge: asthma attacks triggered by viral infections.

Asthmas and allergies often go hand-in-hand, and Harvard Medical School Professor Dale Umetsu says that this has led asthma researchers to focus on the immune cells that mediate the allergic response.

But, in their paper published today in Nature Immunology , Umetsu and colleagues show that the flu virus can trigger a different type of immune response. Their finding may help explain why patients who are hospitalised with severe asthma don't respond to their medication.

"TH2 cells, mast cells and eosinpophils are all [immune] cells that are related to allergy and are involved in adaptive immunity where there is memory for allergy," explains Umetsu.

These cells are found in the lungs of almost all people with asthma; notably those with allergic asthma, the most common form of asthma. They respond to corticosteroids, medication that helps limit airway inflammation and constriction and mucus secretion. "

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