DZL researchers have found that polymorphisms in a chloride channel gene are associated with asthma, pointing the way towards new therpeutic options.
As featured on page 7 of the February Newsletter from the BMBF, DZL Researchers, led by Prof. Dr. Marcus A. Mall at the University of Heidelberg, have found that a specific polymorphism in the 3' UTR of the chloride channel SLC26A9 occurs more frequently in asthmatics than in healthy subjects. The SLC26A9 polymorphism associated with asthma leads to reduced protein expression in vitro. Ion channels such as SLC26A9 are believed to be critical for the dilution of mucus secretions via a process called osmosis. Researchers hypothesize that asthmatics bearing this polymorphism may have lower levels of SLC26A9 protein which in turn may contribute to their disease. "We have found a very specific point of attack for new asthma drugs," says Professor Dr. Mall. These therapies may also help patients with Cystic Fibrosis, an incurable lung disease. Cystic Fibrosis patients also have abnormally thick mucus secretions and may benefit from therapies which help thin mucus. The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.