Researchers have proved that a single enzyme is essential in the production of excess mucus that clogs the airways of people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Existing drugs can already be used to block the enzyme’s actions for other conditions and the researchers believe that this discovery could now lead to new therapies for asthma and COPD sufferers.
The findings, which are published online in the journal PLoS One, found that the enzyme, known as Aldose reductase, is an essential catalyst for some of the symptoms experienced by people with COPD and asthma.
When people with either disease are exposed to allergens such as pollen, mould and dust mites, the cells that line the air passages of the lungs change from their normal state and start to produce excess amounts of mucus.
Previous research has found that the enzyme is a key part of other inflammation disorders, and this new study has shown that suppressing it could help reduce this production of excess amounts of mucus for patients with COPD and asthma.
The next stage for the research is to check that the drugs can effectively be used as therapy for asthma and COPD. The researchers predict that this process will be accelerated due to the fact that the drugs have already undergone clinical trials to treat other diseases.