Study: Breakthrough Asthma Treatment Discovered

In a breakthrough study, researchers have discovered a possible underlying cause of asthma manifestation and a drug that reversed symptoms of the condition.

“This hugely exciting discovery enables us, for the first time, to tackle the underlying causes of asthma symptoms. Five percent of people with asthma don't respond to current treatments so research breakthroughs could be life changing for hundreds of thousands of people,” explained Samantha Walker, PhD, director of research and policy at Asthma UK.1

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In their study, researchers used mouse models and human airway tissue from patients with and without asthma to evaluated the role of calcium sensing receptors (CaSR) in the development of asthma.1,2

Researchers discovered that CaSR activation—caused by the release of chemicals within environmental triggers—induced inflammation, narrowing, and twitchiness within airway tissue.

Further, they found that by exposing CaSR to a class of drug called calcilytics—which deactivate CaSR and were originally developed for the treatment of osteoporosis—they were able to reverse all asthmatic symptoms.

Currently, the study’s researchers are waiting for funding to investigate the efficacy of calcilytic drug treatment in asthma patients that are steroid-resistant, have influenza-exacerbated asthma, or are just difficult to treat.1

The investigators noted that once the funding is ascertained, human trials will be conducted within 2 years.1

“If we can prove that calcilytics are safe when administered directly to the lung in people, then in five years we could be in a position to treat patients and potentially stop asthma from happening in the first place,” concluded Dianiela Riccardi, PhD, one of the study’s researchers and professor from the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University.1

The complete study is published in the April issue of Science Translational Medicine.

-Michelle Canales Butcher


1. Cardiff University. Researchers’ hugely exciting asthma discovery. April 23, 2015. Accessed April 24, 2015.

2. Yarova PL, Stewart AL, Sathish V, et al. Calcium-sensing receptor antagonists abrogate airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation in allergic asthma. Sci Transl Med. 2015 April [epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa0282.