Asthma is one of the more common problems we deal with at the Lung Disease Center. Many of our patients have observed that their disease seems worse or better than someone they know who also has asthma. Physicians have long noticed the same thing.
The question is why.
Recent studies have confirmed the facts that many of us have suspected. Studies of genes associated with asthma have been mapped. There are about 34 different gene sites that appear to be associated with asthma. Depending on your genetic heritage some, or all, of these genes may be defective. Think of the possible combinations! Some of these genes code for the activity of a molecule called IgE. IgE is a protein that participates in the inflammation that goes on in the airways of patients with asthma.
The activity of this IgE molecule determines, in part, some of the severity of the asthma symptoms and the asthma’s response to conventional medical management. Currently, we have a product that can block the action of IgE and, therefore, improve a patient’s symptoms and response to medication.
The next question is what to do if the IgE level is normal in a patient with severe symptoms. Knowing about the genes associated with asthma will help better develop medications and therapies which are targeted to the defective gene. Some new products, not yet on the market, will target some of the specific gene defects so we can not only treat a patient’s symptoms but actually prevent them from occurring.