American and Chinese scientists have found a new treatment that can lead to more effective drug therapy for asthma patients.
After examining more than 6,000 compounds, Luis Ulloa, an immunologist at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and his collaborator from China’s Shanghai University, have identified a drug called TSG12 that relaxes pulmonary muscles and opens the airways, easing asthma symptoms.
The findings of the research have been published in Science Translational Medicine journal.
The study claims that treatment using TSG12, which is not toxic in human cells, can prevent pulmonary resistance in egg – and dust mite – induced asthma.
Researchers found a protein called MT-2 in asthmatic lung tissue that relaxes airway smooth muscle cells (ASMCs) and opens the airways, but MT-2 levels in asthmatic mice examined during the study were over 50 percent lower than the control group.
The research team then transmitted short electrical pulses into mice through electro-acupuncture needles. This enabled them to identify TSG12 as the drug that was most effective in enabling MT-2 relax ASMCs in asthmatics.
The TSG12 treatment was found more effective for asthma and other respiratory disorders than current treatments, including bronchodilator inhalers used by almost all people with asthma, the study states.
The study notes that a critical limitation of the current treatment using bronchodilator inhalers is that they induce Beta 2-adrenoceptor desensitization, leaving patients unresponsive to treatment with persistent uncontrolled symptoms. “By contrast, TSG12 remains effective, and a 1000-fold lower concentration of TSG12 relaxes human ASMCs regardless of the Beta 2-adrenoceptor desensitization. Our results indicate that TG2 is a receptor that is more resistant to desensitization, and unlike Beta 2-agonists, TSG12 treatment does not limit the efficacy of a secondary treatment.”
“It is not a cure, but I think this treatment will give people a lot of hope,” Ulloa has told Xinhua news agency. “There are a growing number of patients with no alternative because the current treatments either have critical side effects or they aren’t working. We hope the new drug will give patients a better option.”
Ulloa said the next step for the research team was to conduct clinical trials for the drug.