Asthma Therapy Target Identified

A novel target for asthma therapies has been identified by researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin.

A specific protein has been linked to the development of post viral infection asthma, according to findings published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin believe this discovery is the first step in developing a novel type of asthma therapy which could be designed to prevent its onset in young children. In previous research, the investigators found a protein called CCL28 was linked to the development of chronic asthma; in this study, the researchers looked at structural analysis and its impact on disease development. Current asthma therapies include providing symptomatic relief and reducing the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.

“Understanding the molecular mechanisms by which asthma develops and establishes itself as a chronic disease is key to elucidating alternative and potentially curative therapies,” lead researcher Mitchell H. Grayson, MD, explained in a press release.

Even in the absence of viral infection, CCL28 is what the researchers called necessary and sufficient for induction of asthma pathology. Plus, the researchers discussed the first effort which targeted identifying the structural make up of CCL28. The authors wrote that the protein CCL28 was defined by a conserved tertiary structure made up of a 3 stranded β sheet and a C terminal α helix constrained by 2 disulfide bonds. There are 2 additional cysteine residues that create a third disulfide bond. The researchers found that if all the disulfide bonds were disrupted, CCL28 was unable to produce asthmatic effects in mice models.

“We found that even in the absence of a viral infection, CCL28 can play a role in the induction of asthma pathology—when the protein is natively folded. If unfolded, it does not,” lead researcher Brian F. Volkman, PhD continued in the statement. “We propose that by exploiting the unique structural features of CCL28, potent and specific CCL28 inhibitors may be developed. This work is the first step in generating a novel type of asthma therapy that may have the power to prevent development of post viral asthma in young children.”

The investigators believe that CCL28 can be a future novel target for the development of alternative asthma therapies.