A research report published in the February 2017 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology shows that it may one-day be possible to reduce the incidence of asthma related to infection with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Specifically, the researchers found that a peptide, called STAT6-IP, when delivered to the lungs of neonatal mice at the time of first RSV exposure reduces the development of allergic-type lung inflammation and airway hyper-responsiveness ("twitchy" airways) in mice when they are "re-challenged" with RSV as young adults. "The incidence and severity of asthma and allergies have been increasing over the last 2-3 decades, affecting the general population in terms of both morbidity and cost. Our data suggest that exposure to STAT6-IP has the potential to modulate long-term responses to allergens and microbial antigens implicated in the development of asthma," said Brian J. Ward, M.D., a researcher involved in the work and Associate Professor from McGill University Health Centre, Research Institute in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. "A full understanding of how STAT6-IP works could open new approaches for therapy and long-term prevention of a variety of immunopathologic conditions beyond asthma. Indeed, our concept of peptide-based targeting of key transcriptional regulators could have broad implications for individuals at risk for many immune-mediated conditions." The new article is titled “STAT6 Inhibitory Peptide Given During RSV Infection of Neonatal Mice Reduces Exacerbated Airway Responses Upon Adult Reinfection.” To make their discovery, scientists infected mice with RSV, first as infants and then again as young adults. Mice were treated with STAT6-IP (or a control peptide) sprayed into the nose only at the time of the neonatal RSV infection.
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