Skip to Content Skip to Navigation
7th May 2024 Latest News Asthma and Allergies

Research could lead to personalised asthma treatment

Asthma researcher

Understanding the genetic makeup of two inflammatory diseases could help personalise treatment options for severe asthmatics.

The Hospital Research Foundation Group has backed Dr Damon Tumes, Dr Harshita Pant and Professor Angel Lopez from the University of South Australia, University of Adelaide and SA Pathology explore the links between chronic rhinosinusitis (CR) and asthma.

The group are researching whether both conditions have the same underlying cause, which could help match the appropriate therapies to each individual case.

Both conditions cause inflammation of the upper (sinus) and lower (lungs) airways respectively and are frequently found in the same patient, Dr Tumes said.

“A lot of patients have CR and asthma, in fact 60% of people with CR with nasal polyps also have asthma so there’s a link there,” he said.

“We are trying to figure out in both the upper and lower airways what inflammatory pathways are causing the diseases and design new ways to treat them.”

This project will also test the unified airways hypothesis which proposes that inflammation upper and lower airways are connected.

While there are therapies on the market that can help treat asthma, matching the patient with the best option is difficult because of the struggle of assessing the underlying cause.

Dr Tumes said using tissue from the upper airway could “provide a window” into the inflammatory pathways causing asthma as it is more readily available than tissue from the lungs.

One of the key findings so far has been the discovery of new cell populations that could contribute to the development of fibrosis in severe asthmatics, which has prompted further research for the team.

A generous donation from sole donor Robert Kenrick has made this funding possible.

Findings hold promise

Dr Tumes was recently co-lead of an Australian study that had promising signs for a new asthma treatment.

Working alongside RMIT University Professor Steven Bozinovski, researchers from CSL Limited and SA Pathology, the study found that a human therapeutic antibody is effective at blocking molecules that control inflammation and scarring of the airways (fibrosis) commonly seen in severe asthma cases.

The molecules, called beta common cytokines, are found at a higher rate in severe asthmatics.

But when researchers administered the antibody, it showed evidence of reducing lung inflammation, improved lung function and reversed fibrosis.

The findings were published in in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology earlier this year.