Is a Vaccine for Asthma in Your Future?
With the number of asthma cases on the rise in recent years, scientists have been focusing on finding new, more effective ways to prevent and treat asthma.
That's where the allure of an asthma vaccine comes in. Researchers from around the world have been exploring the concept of creating a vaccination for asthma that would desensitize the body to common triggers, similar to how allergy shots work, but with quicker and safer results.
How an Asthma Vaccine Works
A group of researchers from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) incorporated the DNA sequence in dust mites into an asthma vaccine that requires two doses injected into the muscle in three-week intervals to ready the body to head off an asthma reaction.
They tested this product on mice and found it helped their bodies to produce antibodies that had a protective role against future exposure to dust mites. It made their airways less sensitive next time they were exposed to dust mites and reduced inflammation as well. These results were released in Human Gene Therapy, Spring 2012.
Scientists hope that further clinical trials will confirm the safety and effectiveness of this treatment method in humans. Other similar efforts to test DNA vaccines for asthma are also underway and seem very encouraging, although the availability of such a vaccine for the general public may still be many years away.
What You Can Do
Take your asthma medications as directed and avoid dust mites and other types of allergic asthma triggers. Clean your home frequently and remove carpeting, curtains, books, collectibles, and stuffed animals that can trap dust mites and trigger your symptoms. Wear a mask while cleaning to minimize exposure to allergens. While there's no way to cure your asthma yet, these simple steps can help you manage your condition.
Beilvert, Fanny et al. "DNA/amphiphilic block copolymer nanospheres reduce asthmatic response in a mouse model of allergic asthma. Human Gene Therapy. Online March 19, 2012. Web. 16 May 2012.
Radio Netherlands Online. "Dutch Scientists Closer to Asthma Vaccine." 1 May 2012. Web. 12 May 2012.
Science Daily. "Asthma: A Vaccination That Works Using Intramuscular Injection." 4 April 2012. Web. 11 May 2012.
ScienceDaily. "Science News: Vaccine to Cure Asthma Brought On by House Dust Mite Allergies?" 21 March 2011. Web. 11 May 2012.
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