The researchers who had published their findings in the journal Nature Medicine have shown that asthmatics only produce half the number of anti-viral proteins when suffering a cold as compared to non-sufferers. This, they were of the opinion might be the reason for their being more likely to suffer a severe attack during a cold, which could even and end up in hospital. It has been reported that around 1,500 sufferers die every year.
Statistics from the Asthma UK show that 60% of adults and 80% of children are taken to a hospital as a result of an attack are suffering from a viral infection. The researchers are but of the opinion that inhalers could be also developed to deliver the required dose of anti-viral medication to the lungs, that would help the body to fight the infection.
Professor Sebastian Johnston, of Imperial College London and the Medical Research Council's Asthma UK Center, stating that he was excited by the findings, said, "People with asthma are particularly susceptible to rhinoviruses - which are the major cause of severe asthma attacks." He further mentioned that, " When we tested volunteers with and without asthma we found these new interferon's, which would tackle the infection, were not being produced as effectively in people with asthma. Delivery of the deficient interferon's by inhalers could be an ideal way to treat and prevent severe attacks of asthma, potentially vastly improving the quality of life for asthma patients."
Lyn Smurthwaite, the research development officer for Asthma UK, was of the opinion that, "For people with asthma, even a common cold can result in hospital treatment - yet no specific treatment is available to help virally induced asthma attacks." She also stated that the Asthma UK was pleased to have funded research, which has led to the breakthrough.
Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, which also helped by funding the study, said, "The results will be of invaluable help in improving the treatment and care of people with asthma. Professor Johnston and his colleagues have identified a reason why people are more susceptible to rhinovirus infections, which can cause asthma attacks. This important finding paves the way for developing new approaches to prevention and treatment."
It has been reported that around 5.2 million people in the UK, that is roughly one in 12 of the population receive treatment for asthma, and that on an average around 198 people get admitted to hospitals with asthma attacks.