Scientists at the University of Southampton analyzing the impact of the gene ADAM33, which is associated with the development of asthma, have discovered a potential way of preventing asthma at the origin of the disease.

According to a Science Daily report, ADAM33 makes an enzyme that when it loses its anchor to the cell surface, it is prone to going rogue around the lung causing poorer lung function in people who have asthma. Several studies conducted in human tissue samples and mice suggest that if you switch off ADAM33 or prevent it from going rogue, the features of asthma, such as inflammation and airway remodeling, will be reduced.

One study showed that rogue human ADAM33 causes airway remodeling resulting in more muscle and blood vessels around the airways of developing lungs but it did not cause inflammation, according to Science Daily. The introduction of a house dust mite allergen significantly enhanced airway remodeling and allergic airway inflammation. In another study, remodeling of the airway was shown in mice that had ADAM33 switched on from in utero, and the gene was then switched off and the airway remodeling was completely reversed.

In addition, the researchers studied the impact of house dust mite allergen on asthma features in mice that had the ADAM33 gene removed. The Science Daily report indicates that airway remodeling and twitchiness as well as airway inflammation rates were significantly reduced by 50% and respectively 35% in mice that did not have the rogue gene.

“Our studies have challenged the common paradigm that airway remodeling in asthma is a consequence of inflammation. Instead, we have shown that rogue human ADAM33 initiates airway remodeling that promotes allergic inflammation and twitchiness of the airways in the presence of allergen,” says Hans Michel Haitchi, who led the study. “This finding radically alters our understanding of the field, to say the least. For years we have thought that airway remodeling is the result of the inflammation caused by an allergic reaction, but our research tells us otherwise.”

Haitchi adds that the researchers believe that if the ADAM33 is blocked from going rogue or the activity is stopped if it does go rogue, asthma could be prevented. Haitchi explains, “DAM33 initiated airway remodeling reduces the ability of the lungs to function normally, which is not prevented by current anti-inflammatory steroid therapy. Therefore, stopping this ADAM33 induced process would prevent a harmful effect that promotes the development of allergic asthma for many of the 5.4 million people in the UK with the condition.”

Source: Science Daily