More Americans than ever before suffer from asthma. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.6% of American adults—18.4 million people—have asthma. Another 6.2 million Americans under the age of 18—8.4% of children—also have it. It affects people of both genders and of all races, ages, and incomes. Per statistics compiled by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, it is one of our most common and costly diseases:
- It is the leading chronic disease in children; is the top reason for missed school days; and is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among children younger than 15
- It accounts for 14.2 million physician office visits, 439,000 discharges from hospital inpatient care, and 1.8 million emergency department visits each year
- Ten Americans die from asthma every day
- And, according to new research from the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, asthma costs the US economy more than $80 billion annually in medical expenses, missed work and school days, and deaths
The cause of asthma—a condition in which airways narrow that can make breathing difficult—is unknown. Several long-term medications are available to keep it under control, but some come with restrictions and a risk of a variety of side effects.
One study may provide a replacement for steroids as a treatment. A Purdue University research team studied a specific microRNA known as miR-223, which helps regulate inflammation through the NF-kB pathway, a protein complex that regulates inflammation and cell proliferation. The same pathway also plays an important role in bronchial epithelial cells, which in turn play a large role in the development of asthma. It was determined that supplementing miR-223 to epithelial cells could suppress that pathway, thereby helping to control inflammatory disease.
Treating eczema could also alleviate asthma. Research using a combination of corticosteroids and PPARy agonists in one treatment alleviated atopic dermatitis (a type of eczema of the skin) and also significantly reduced the severity of asthma. Dr. Julie Deckers, with the VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research, which conducted the study, states, “In this way, the therapy represents a potent remedy against allergic skin inflammation and the aggravation of atopic march,” the term used for the phenomenon that children with atopic dermatitis show an increased risk of developing asthma.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow recently released findings that may lead to an actual cure for asthma. Their research showed that the secretions of an intestinal parasite called Heligmosomoides polygyrus (HES) interferes with the action of interleukin-33 (IL-33), which drives allergic sensitivity. An investigation determined that these secretions blocked the release of IL-33. “By identifying this new protein, we have found a new way of suppressing the allergic responses which cause asthma. In the future, we hope to develop this further,” stated Dr. Henry McSorley, the co-senior study author.
Research is critical to discovering ways to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure asthma. Meridien Research has asthma research studies that are enrolling now at several of our clinics. For more information or to see if you or someone you know may qualify to participate, please contact us today at 1-888-777-8839 or visit our individual study pages.