American and Chinese scientists found a new treatment that could lead to more effective drug therapy for millions of individuals with asthma.
In a study, published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, Luis Ulloa, a lead author and immunologist at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and his collaborator from China's Shanghai University examined more than 6,000 compounds and identified a drug called TSG12 that relaxes the muscles and opens the airways in asthma.
This drug treatment, which is not toxic in human cells, can prevent pulmonary resistance in egg-and dust mite-induced asthma.
Researchers found that a protein called MT-2 in asthmatic lung tissue relaxes airway smooth muscle cells and opens the airways but MT-2 was over 50 percent lower in asthmatic lung tissue.
Ulloa and his collaborators transmitted short electrical pulses into mice through electro-acupuncture needles.
It enabled them to identify the specific drug TSG12 that provides better therapeutic treatments for asthma and other respiratory disorders.
The TSG12 treatment was more effective than current treatments, including bronchodilator inhalers used by almost all people with asthma, Ulloa said.
"It is not a cure, but I think this treatment will give people a lot of hope," said Ulloa. "There are a growing number of patients with no alternative because the current treatments either have critical side effects or aren't working. We hope this will give patients a better option."
Their next step would be clinical trials, he said.