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New Treatment Discovered For Severe Asthma Patients

Update Date: Oct 27, 2013 08:33 PM EDT

A new treatment for those with severe asthma has been discovered in a new research from Japan. 

A natural helper cell (NH) may be the cause of corticosteroid resistance in severe asthma patients and according to a new study the ant-psychotic drug Pimozide might be what these patients need in order to properly take in treatment.

"Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by a persistent inflammation of the airways," reported the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences. "However, 5-10% of patients with "severe asthma" respond poorly to a maximal dose of steroids." 

In addition, RIKEN said, "These patients experience uncontrolled and frequent asthma symptoms that have a profound impact on their quality of life and health care costs."

By inhaling steroids, asthma patients suppress T lymphocytes and NH cells. But patients with severe asthma produce proteins called interleukin-33 (IL-33) and interleukin (IL-5) in the airways when NH cells are activated which leads to airway inflammation. 

"In the current study, the researchers led by Drs Shigeo Koyasu from RIKEN and Koichiro Asano from Keio University, employed an experimental mouse model for airway inflammation to study the pathway leading to IL-33-mediated NH activation," reported RIKEN. "Their research shows that NH resistance to steroids is induced by the protein thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), present in the airways of severe asthma patients."

After tests were done on what triggered TSLP, researchers found that the approved drug, Pimozide allowed the steroids to do their part in treatment instead of resist it. 

"Therefore, administration of Pimozide or related drugs would be an effective treatment in human severe asthmatic patients," said the researchers.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.

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