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Surprising Science

Promising New Asthma Treatment Discovered by Chance

Researchers have stumbled on a potential new treatment for ‘late’ asthma, which can occur several hours after exposure to allergens. Sensory nerve-blocking drugs are the key.

What’s the Latest Development?

A potential new treatment for delayed asthma attacks—which can occur several hours after exposure to allergens—has been discovered by a team from Imperial College London. A delayed response—caused by allergens triggering sensory nerves in the airways—is experienced by about half of people with asthma. The researchers found that blocking sensory nerve functions stopped this late asthmatic response in mice and rats. 

What’s the Big Idea?

If the findings can be translated to humans, drugs called anticholinergics could be used to treat asthma patients who suffer from delayed attacks. Steroids are currently the main treatment for asthma but are not effective for all patients. The seeming breakthrough was found by chance.” We wanted to do the research on anaesthetised rats, but we couldn’t because the late response had been blocked by anaesthetising them,” one of the researchers explained.


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