At least 15 percent of people suffering from severe asthma are resistant to regular treatments that lead to increased admissions to hospitals despite the use of heavy medication.

In an expansive research conducted by asthma experts at Leicester Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs), University of Leicester and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Nottingham, and University of Nottingham, the researchers examined genetic data of people who have moderate-to-severe asthma and European ancestry.

The study involved comparative study of over 10,000 people suffering from asthma and 50,000 people with normal lung function. The findings revealed new genetic variants linked to moderate-to-severe asthma and their sensitivity toward development of this condition.

Potential For New Treatments

The study published in journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine was able to isolate particular genetic variants linked to the risk of developing moderate-to-severe asthma that control the production of vital components of mucus.

Discovering the latent genetic origins of the disease gives scientists a renewed hope for improved treatment of this uncontrollable condition by targeting these genes with advanced therapies.

"Asthma is a fairly common but notoriously difficult disease to diagnose, treat and manage," said Professor Ian Sayers, from University of Nottingham and NIHR Nottingham BRC.

Sayers also explained that they understand the role of environmental factors in triggering the condition. However, the genetic tendency also plays a huge role in aggravating the symptoms of asthma. Therefore, identifying these genes can pave way for an improved treatment and even a cure.

Challenges Ahead

"Despite advances in recent years, we still see many patients struggling with asthma, so there is still a tremendous need for innovation to reduce the burden of this disease," said Linda Rogers, MD, associate professor and clinical director of the Adult Asthma Program at the Mount Sinai - National Jewish Health Respiratory Institute, as reported by Business Wire.

"New treatments for severe asthma are recently available and others are on the horizon. One major challenge will be understanding which treatment is best for which person," reveals Professor Christopher Brightling, senior investigator from the NIHR Leicester BRC and University of Leicester.

He further adds that this study of the genetics associated with acute asthmatic condition will help caregivers in making informed decisions and make way for future therapies.

Coauthor of the study Professor Louise Wain, British Lung Foundation Chair in Respiratory Research at the University of Leicester, also added that even though millions of people are suffering from this disease, each person experiences different symptoms, some more acute than others. Understanding the variations in the genes  in combination with factors that trigger asthma or development of it can hopefully lead to more personalized treatments in the future. This research is like a breath of fresh air for those who struggle to breathe.

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