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    ULg says colds aggravate immune responses of asthma patients

    Researchers from the University of Liège (ULg) and Imperial College in London have made an important discovery on the rhinovirus. This is the agent responsible for causing the common cold. They now know how the rhinovirus acts on the immune system to induce severe asthma attacks, amongst individuals suffering from this illness.

    The University of Liège indicated this yesterday (Monday) when the results of their findings were published in the scientific review Nature Medicine. The host DNA would thus be responsible for these attacks occurring.

    The researchers from the Interdisciplinary Cluster in Applied Genoproteomics (within the ULg) explain that the rhinovirus infection, in fact, aggravates the asthmatic reaction. It does so by inducing release of the host DNA within the airways.

    Once outside of the cells, the latter greatly amplifies the detrimental immune reaction, which causes asthma.

    The researchers developed an experimental model for the exacerbation of asthma induced by the rhinovirus amongst mice.

    As seen in humans, the rhinovirus induces an extreme asthmatic reaction in mice, as well as the release of DNA into the airways.

    As part of the experiment, the treatment of infected mice with a compound, which breaks down DNA, then made it possible to cure them completely of asthma attacks.

    The researchers say, “In addition, the injection of DNA alone leads to a high number of asthmatic symptons, induced by the rhinovirus, repeating. This clearly demonstrates the involvement of sufferers’ own DNA in causing attacks.”
     
    The study suggests that, as a consequence, controlling DNA release into the airways or accelerating its elimination are potential options to treat such virus-related asthma attacks.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times