Study into asthma provides a paradigm shift in understanding of lifethreatening condition

A new study led by our University to understand how to improve the health of severe asthma patients has made a breakthrough finding, with the discovery being described as a ‘paradigm shift’ in understanding the life-threatening condition.

The international team from our Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation and the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Jefferson School of Pharmacy, Thomas Jefferson University, discovered the presence of increased amounts of a protein – called PP5 – in the lungs of severe asthma patients.

They found that PP5 blocks the effects of the best medicines in improving the condition. This now provides researchers with a target in order to try and help improve the symptoms of the condition in sufferers. The team has published their findings in the journal Allergy - the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The lead author of the study, Dr Yassine Amrani, Associate Professor in Respiratory Immunology at the University of Leicester, said: “The study demonstrated for the first time that a protein called PP5 was significantly up-regulated in the lungs of severe asthmatic patients compared to healthy controls. The test tube study allowed us to show that this protein was playing a key role in suppressing the anti-inflammatory action of corticosteroid, thus identifying this protein as a potential new player in reducing patients’ response to corticosteroid therapy.”

The researchers say that their study shows that some severe asthma patients - despite being compliant to their treatment - may fail to properly benefit from their corticosteroid therapy because of the presence of heightened inhibitory signals driven by this protein called PP5 which blunts patients’ response to their best medicine.

Understanding the mechanisms driving this abnormal expression of PP5 in severe asthma could lead to novel treatments.

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