A new nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory therapy made from a human protein significantly decreases disease signs of asthma in mice, opening the possibility of a new asthma therapy for patients who do not respond to current steroid treatments. Results of the study were presented at The Endocrine Society’s 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Researchers found that the protein, insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), uniquely inhibits specific physiological consequences of asthma examined in asthmatic mice. IGFBP-3 reportedly targets a key cellular pathway called nuclear factor kappa B, or NF-kB that plays a role in inflammation. The IGFBP-3 protein interferes with its cellular signaling and suppresses NF-kB activity.

ìAnti-inflammatory corticosteroid medicines are an important part of asthma management for many people, but an estimated 20% of patients with asthma are resistant to existing steroid medications and there is a critical need for alternate therapies,î said Youngman Oh, PhD, study co-author and professor of pathology at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

Using a mouse model, the researchers showed that IGFBP-3 production is suppressed in asthma. They measured NF-kB inflammatory activity, using molecular and cellular techniques, and found that treatment with IGFBP-3 blocked NF-kB activity.

The IGFBP-3 treatment, administered to the mice by spraying a synthetic form of the protein into their opened trachea, ìreduced all physiological manifestations of asthma,î including airway inflammation and hyperreactivity, according to Oh. The researchers plan to study IGFBP-3 treatment in asthmatic canine models next.