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Potential new treatment targets root cause of asthma

SYDNEY, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Asthma sufferers can breathe a little easier with a potential new treatment revealed on Friday, targeting the underlying cause of the disease rather than the symptoms.

A study by Australia's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research has shown in preclinical trials that by inhibiting the enzyme Ezh2 they can "switch off" and reverse the uncontrolled inflammation associated with asthma.

"I have been researching asthma in the preclinical setting for a long time and have never seen a treatment wipe out signs of an allergic immune response like this before," study co-author Dr Christine Keenan said.

"It's exciting because these findings could be the stepping stone to developing an effective new treatment for allergic asthma."

One in nine people suffer from asthma and current medicines such as inhalers only treat the symptoms of the disease, which is an allergic reaction resulting in a build-up of mucus, restricted airways and difficulty in breathing.

The treatment utilizes an enzyme-inhibiting drug which is currently being used in clinical trials for blood cancer.

"Because the drug is already well tolerated in humans, it's reasonable to expect that the transition from oncology to treatments for inflammation should be smooth," co-author Dr Rhys Allan said.

"We hope that this study illuminates the way forward for further investigation into a highly targeted and effective medicine for asthma."


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