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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

Discovery May Yield New Asthma Therapy

Published August 14, 2009 2:12 PM by Vern Enge

Aldose reductase is not a term frequently bandied about in respiratory therapy departments today, but file that term in your brain, therapists, because current studies show aldose reductase inhibitors might significantly reduce allergic reactions that trigger asthma attacks.

As such, compounds currently in clinical studies may play a major role in the future for treating the 20 million American with asthma.

Experiments already have been conducted using aldose reductase inhibitors for treating the complications of diabetes and several diseases characterized by inflammation. In their studies, researchers found that when cells are hit by an overload of reactive varieties of oxygen and oxygen compounds eager to react with other molecules, it triggers a chain of biochemical reactions that set off a barrage of inflammatory-signaling proteins.

Those, in turn, summon immune system cells and generate even more reactive varieties of oxygen and compounds, creating a vicious cycle of ever-increasing inflammation.

Aldose reductase plays an essential part in the activation of the inflammatory proteins, researchers discovered. "We found that if you block aldose reductase, you block the inflammation," explained Professor Satish Srivastava of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Oral administration of aldose reductase inhibitors worked effectively in experimental studies of mice, according to Srivastava, the senior author of a paper detailing the discovery published in the Aug. 6 edition of the journal PLos One.

"If these drugs work as well in humans as they do in animals, you could administer them either orally or in a single puff from an inhaler and get long-lasting results," noted Srivastava.

The next step will be to apply the findings to human studies; and researchers are optimistic aldose reductase inhibitors will be equally effective in that crucial arena.

The research was funded by the American Asthma Foundation.

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