Researchers working in collaboration with scientists at King's College London and the Mayo Clinic (USA), described the previously unproven role of the calcium sensing receptor (CaSR) in causing asthma, a disease which affects 300 million people worldwide.
The team used mouse models of asthma and human airway tissue from asthmatic and non-asthmatic people to reach their findings.
Professor Daniela Riccardi, from Cardiff University School of Biosciences, said that their paper showed how these triggers release chemicals that activate CaSR in airway tissue and drive asthma symptoms like airway twitchiness, inflammation, and narrowing. Using calcilytics, nebulized directly into the lungs, they showed that it was possible to deactivate CaSR and prevent all of these symptoms, Riccardi further added.
According to Cardiff University Professor Paul Kemp, who co-authored the study, the identification of CaSR in airway tissue means that the potential for treatment of other inflammatory lung diseases beyond asthma was immense.
These include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic bronchitis, for which currently there exists no cure. It is predicted that by 2020 these diseases will be the third biggest killers worldwide.
The study is published in Science Translational Medicine journal.
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