Research brief: Drugs tackle root of asthma and COPD

A two-drug therapy that reverses cellular changes in the airways of people with asthma and COPD has been developed by US researchers. Both conditions are ultimately caused by the transformation of the ciliated cells that sweep debris from the lung into cells that secrete mucus. Ciliated cells also live longer in these patients, so even more of them can transform to produce mucus. A combination of drugs, which stop epidermal growth factor from extending the life of ciliated cells and prevent them from being converted into mucus-producing cells, could prevent asthma and COPD developing. (JCI 2006; 116: 309-21).

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