Swedish scientists say they have discovered a new protein KCNRG that is possibly linked to ashtma and bronchitis.
Researchers at Uppsala University say the previously unknown protein is found in the cells of lower air ways.
The protein is also important to the immune system in an autoimmune lung disorder that is often fatal, according to the Uppsala research team.
The researchers used an unusual hereditary autoimmune disorder, autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 1 (APS-1), as a model. Patients with this disease are afflicted by the immune system erroneously attacking several tissues, such as the liver, insulin-producing cells, and adrenal glands.
"Only now have we understood that the lungs are attacked as well and that in many cases this is the most serious component of the disease APS-1," says Dr. Mohammad Alimohammadi.
"It's our hope that the discovery of the protein that the immune system targets, besides making early diagnosis possible, will also be possible to use in understanding the mechanism behind the occurrence of common public health disorders like asthma and chronic bronchitis."
The findings have been published in the latest web edition of the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.