Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook




 

Genetic test for asthma may improve treatment

14 January 2013

By Dr Sarah Spain

Appeared in BioNews 688

Testing children with asthma for a variant in the beta-2 receptor gene may help clinicians determine the most suitable medication, especially in children who respond poorly to standard treatment.

The researchers, from the University of Dundee and the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said that the results were 'a step towards personalised and tailored medicine for asthma'.

The arginine-16 genotype of the beta-2 receptor gene is carried by one in seven asthma sufferers. The usual treatment for children where standard treatment with a reliever inhaler is not effective is a combination of a steroid inhaler and salmeterol, which is a beta receptor stimulant. However, previous studies have shown that people with the gene variant may respond poorly to salmeterol and there have been concerns that this drug may even make their symptoms worse.

With this is mind, the researchers decided to test whether children with the arginine-16 variant would respond better to an alternative treatment called Montelukast (also known as Singulair). Sixty-two children agreed to take part in the study and were randomly separated into two groups. The first received the standard treatment of fluticasone (a steroid inhaler) and salmeterol, and the second group received fluticasone and Montelukast. The participants were then followed up every three months over the course of a year.

The study showed that the number of school days missed over the year was found to be significantly lower in the Montelukast group. The researchers also looked at asthma exacerbations, salbutamol use, asthma symptom scores, lung function and quality of life scores.

Professor Somnath Mukhopadhyay of the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, who was involved in the study, said: 'For almost every symptom we were looking at there was a significant difference and it was always in the favour of Montelukast' – although there was no observed significant difference in lung function between the two groups.

The researchers concluded that asthmatic children with this specific genetic variation 'appear to fare better on Montelukast than salmeterol' when this is combined with a corticosteroid. They added that treatment of these children may be made more effective with the help of a simple relatively inexpensive genetic test.

Malayka Rahman from Asthma Research UK said: 'This exciting area of research has the potential to lead to the tailoring of better treatments for an individual based on their genetic make-up, ultimately keeping more people out of hospital and preventing unnecessary asthma deaths in the long term'.

The present research was a proof of principle study to determine if an alternative treatment was more successful in certain patients and, as such, had a very small sample size of people with a known genetic variant. The results will therefore need to be confirmed in larger studies before changes in treatment regimen can be decided upon.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
University of Dundee (press release) | 08 January 2013
 
Guardian | 08 January 2013
 
NHS Choices | 08 January 2013
 
Clinical Science | 05 November 2012
 
Telegraph | 08 January 2013
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

25 November 2013 - by Dr Rachael Panizzo 
A gene variant has been discovered and linked to an increased risk of severe childhood asthma. Researchers suggest that a faulty version of the gene CDHR3 may even be the direct cause of the disease in some children...
18 November 2013 - by Dr Lanay Griessner 
Researchers in Denmark have found that women with asthma take longer to become pregnant compared to non-asthmatics. The results add to an emerging body of evidence showing that asthma affects fertility...
29 July 2013 - by David O'Rourke 
Mutations in a single genetic pathway known to be disrupted in those with connective tissue disorders have been shown to be a major factor causing allergies in humans...
28 June 2013 - by Dr James Heather 
Asthmatics carrying several genetic variations associated with asthma are more likely to have a severe, longer lasting disease, research shows...

03 October 2011 - by Luciana Strait 
Inheriting two copies of a genetic variant has been associated with reduced response to steroid inhalers in people with asthma. The finding could explain why around 40 percent people with asthma do not benefit from inhaled steroids, the most commonly prescribed medication for the condition....
27 September 2010 - by Ken Hanscombe 
A new study queries the role of allergy in the development of asthma, and suggests that a different disease process is involved in childhood and adult-onset asthma. Asthma is a complex condition with genetic and environmental factors, although experts believe it has a strong heritable component....
12 October 2009 - by Adam Fletcher 
One million children in the UK suffer from asthma, yet it last week transpired that one in ten of these might not be responding as expected to existing treatment. A collaboration between Professor Somnath Mukhopadhyay, of the University of Brighton, and Professor Colin Palmer, of the University of Dundee, has found that a common gene variant in children...
28 July 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
Traffic fumes may trigger asthma in children who are genetically susceptible to the disease, according to a study published in the journal Thorax last week. The researchers, based at the University of Southern California, found that children who carried variations in the gene GSTP1, coupled with elevated...
14 April 2008 - by Stuart Scott 
US researchers have identified a gene that seems to play a significant role in the development of asthma. Reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine, Carole Ober and her colleagues at the University of Chicago found that people can either be protected from asthma or find...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust
Advertise your products and services HERE - click for further details

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation