New target could help to reduce symptoms of asthma attacks

An international team of researchers including Professors David Lambert from the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and Chris Brightling from the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation has examined the role of a receptor in the body that could help to prevent or reduce the effects of asthma attacks.

In a new paper the team examined the role in the body of nociceptin, a peptide that activates the nociceptin receptor, better known for its association with pain processing.

In asthma there is a constriction of the airways and an increase in immune activation - typically these are treated with a dilator (salbutamol) and a steroid (to reduce immune response). The study identified that nociceptin has substantial activity in asthma models given before or during an asthma attack - and that a single molecule reduces both the immune response and causes dilation.

It is hoped through the observation that scientists can demonstrate effects before or during asthma that the discovery could help to prevent or reduce established asthma attacks in people suffering from the disease.