Scientists at Yale are researching how the small ribonucleic acids that drive communication between cells can present new ways to treat allergies and asthma.

The scientists — led by Shervin Takyar, M.D., associate professor and specialist in pulmonary disease at Yale — found that a specific microRNA known as miR-1 has a direct impact on allergic airway inflammation and that altering the levels of miR-1 can help relieve the symptoms of asthma and allergies.

It’s approaching allergy and asthma treatment from an entirely new paradigm, Takyar said, one that focuses on “the language of cells.”

About 10 years ago, he and other Yale researchers began looking at the endothelial cells that line blood vessels within the nose and lung tissues where asthma and allergy symptoms arise. In patients with asthma and rhinosinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses common to allergy sufferers), these blood vessels let in high numbers of eosinophils, the white blood cells that cause inflammation in the lungs and nasal passages