Researchers have identified a biological basis for asthmatic children who do not respond well to corticosteroid treatment, currently the most effective treatment for chronic asthma and acute asthma attack. Conducted at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the study also identifies a genetic pathway that could open the possibility of new therapies for difficult-to-treat patients. The findings are reported online on April 21, 2015 in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, published by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. The article is titled “Vanin-1 Expression and Methylation Discriminate Pediatric Asthma Corticosteroid Treatment Response.” The researchers performed genome-wide analysis of nasal epithelial cells collected from children experiencing acute asthma exacerbation. They compared genetic expression and medical responses in children who responded well to corticosteroids therapy to those who did not. "Genome-wide analysis allowed us to identify a gene, VNN-1, whose expression discriminated between good and poor responders to systemic corticosteroid treatment," said Gurjit Khurana Hershey, M.D., Ph.D., senior author and director of Asthma Research at Cincinnati Children's. "This may serve as a clinically useful biomarker to identify a subset of difficult-to-treat asthmatic children, and targeting the VNN-1 pathway may be useful as a therapeutic strategy." Asthma affects close to 26 million people in the United States, 7 million of them children. Although people suffering from asthma share similar clinical symptoms, it is triggered by multiple genetic and environmental factors.
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