New genes kindle hope for asthma patientsPublished On: Wed, Jul 9th, 2014 | Immunology | By BioNews
In a significant discovery, a team led by an Indian-origin researcher Pandurangan Vijayanand has identified new genes that likely contribute to asthma — a disease that currently affects over 200 million people worldwide.
“Our approach has revealed a staggering but manageable number of new molecules that could play a role in asthma and, thus, are potentially novel therapeutic targets,” explained Vijayanand from the La Jolla Institute (LJI) in California.
In order to find genetic neighbourhoods that are active in asthmatic disease, the Vijayanand-led group focused their experiments on memory cells that develop abnormally in asthma patients.
By applying his technique in small populations of abnormal memory cells, Vijayanand highlighted 33 genetic neighbourhoods that are highly active in diseased cells, but inactive in healthy cells — shifting the focus of asthma research to specific genes located in these neighbourhoods.
Vijayanand and his team completed the study using different amounts of cells from the blood of healthy individuals and asthmatic patients.
They did so to determine the smallest number of cells required for their technique, and found it works with as little as 10,000 cells, which is significantly less than the millions of cells required to use other methods.
“Our study provides a rich and comprehensive resource that will be useful to the scientific community,” Vijayanand concluded.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Immunology.