Liwa Logo Asthma is strikingly common and professionals believe that locating the exact cause may aid in developing new treatment strategies. More recently, researchers from the Lung Institute of WA (LIWA) have seemingly disclosed 2 new genetic variants that elevate asthma risk.

This analysis has provided basic knowledge of the complex systems involved in asthma and puts forward the molecular pathways associated with this condition. Asthma is known to affect one in 10 persons in Australia, thus influencing their life negatively. Professionals are still not very clear on what causes asthma.

LIWA Director and Senior Author on the publication, Prof Philip Thompson elaborated, “We compared the DNA of thousands of asthma patients with healthy individuals and combined our results with other international studies. Two regions of the DNA were consistently different between asthmatics and non-asthmatics: one in the interleukin-6 receptor (IL6R) gene on chromosome 1 and the other near a gene called GARP on chromosome 11.”

Interlukin 6 has been known to play a role in many diseases including rheumatoid arthritis. It is a signaling molecule that contributes in the working of the immune system and inflammation. The findings suggest that this genetic difference seemed to result in higher levels of interlukin-6 receptor in the lung, unlike normal individuals. This apparently leads to airway inflammation. Drugs striking IL6 Receptor may pave the path to new therapeutic avenues.

The paper will be published in The Lancet and is currently available online at: Identification of IL6R and chromosome 11q13.5 as risk loci for asthma.