A bronchiole in lung of allergic specimen

Scope 63 - Out of the box approaches to treating Asthma

07 August 2017, Asthma, Immune system, Parasites, Professor Graham Le Gros, Scope

Asthma is caused by an overreaction of the immune system to harmless environmental triggers that we breathe in, touch or eat. In fact, it is only one part of the immune system that is activated, the Th2 immune response, which normally functions to protect us from parasitic worm infections. Understanding the signals that trigger the initiation of asthma is critical for the development of treatments that selectively suppress only the asthmatic immune response.

“It is very difficult for us to advise patients on what to do and what to avoid to not cause an asthmatic response.” Professor Graham Le Gros explains. “With asthma being very diverse and attacking patients differently depending on their immune system and genes it is vital to shift research to a more individualised level – similar to our immunotherapy approach in cancer research.”

On the other hand, parasitic worm infection has been linked to a dampening of allergic and asthmatic symptoms. We are trying to understand how this phenomenon could be applied in a therapeutic setting for inflammatory diseases of the lung, skin and gut.