Interferon is best treatment for Asthma, study says

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Exciting news in the treatment of asthma patients was released in the Journal of Immunology by researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center on July 15. Interferon, a protein already used to treat many illnesses shows evidence that it can be the best treatment for asthma to date.

The study, conducted by Dr. J. David Farrar, assistant professor of immunology and molecular biology at UT Southwestern and senior author, along with others, has found that interferon inhibits Th2 cells from secreting chemicals that cause reactions to normal substances such as pet dander and pollen.

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Th2 cells (T lymphocytes, T helper 2 cells) are immune cells in the body and are already known to cause asthma. Current treatments, inhalers and steroids, only offer temporary relief from asthmatic symptoms. The study’s findings, says Dr. Ferrar, shows the potential to be the best treatment. Dr. Ferrar has said, “By targeting this… factor we’ve turned off they key component that regulates the entire process. The study has confirmed that it’s the Th2 cells that you really want to target.”

Interferon, because it’s been used before, does not need to go through an early-phase safety trial. This means researchers can jump right in and begin a clinical trial and treat human asthma patients. That is exciting indeed for the 20 million Americans with asthma who want long-term relief. Asthma is the leading cause of pediatric hospital admissions (200,000 a year).

The study was founded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Exxon Mobil Corp. Other authors included Dr. Michelle Gill, assistant professor of pediatrics and internal medicine; Jonathan Huber, lead author and student research assistant in immunology; and Hilario Ramos, former student research assistant in immunology. For more information about asthma and allergies, please click here

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