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Stress-fighting proteins give new hope for asthma cure

A recent study conducted by Weill Cornell Medical College points to a new potential cure for asthma.

A study published in July 2015 uncovered precise molecular steps which enable immune cells found in asthma and allergies to grow and survive in human bodies. Knowing more about how these cells develop shed new light on how to combat them.

An overproduction of certain immune cells is linked to inflammation that causes asthma and other conditions. These cells are called eosinophils.

The new study by Weill Cornell Medical College found that there are methods that result in the elimination of eosinophils without eliminating other cell types. Such treatment could assist asthma sufferers in eliminating a cause of inflammation without harming other important cells at work in the body.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases classifies eosinophils as part of the group of cells known as granulocytes. Granulocytes develop in the bone marrow before entering blood and produce several proteins essential for human health. Toxic proteins are also created in the process and are later released as a result of immune triggers like viruses and bacteria. Overproduction of these proteins stresses the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), a cellular organelle that is crucial in folding and processing secreted and transmembrane proteins.

Methods to reverse ER stress and eliminate the overproduction of eosinophils may help many asthma sufferers for whom other treatments did not work well. New findings show that XBP1, a protein essential to the creation of eosinophils, can be eliminated. Eliminating this and other eosinophil triggers such as IRE1 may cease the creation of eosinophils. In a study conducted in mice, removing IRE1 and XBP1 successfully eliminated all traces of eosinophils from subjects.

The Weill Cornell Medical College study is the first to show how the elimination of IRE1 and similar proteins can effectively block eosinophils from developing. Though not all patients respond the same to this method, it is a promising and emerging line of research.

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