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Gene Insight May Improve Child Asthma Care

Kids with worst cases display specific gene profile, researchers say

THURSDAY, Feb. 24, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have identified a common genetic profile shared by children who suffer acute asthma attacks.

The finding may help in the development of treatments specifically designed for children with the most severe forms of asthma.

Using hi-tech screens to search through nearly 55,000 genes, researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center identified two distinct gene expression profiles in children with acute asthma and in those with asthma stabilized by medication.

"We found that children who were having an acute asthma attack had a gene expression profile that was clearly different from those seen in someone with stable (controlled) asthma. The amazing thing was that the gene expression profiles were consistent across patients despite the likely differences with respect to the cause of asthma," senior study author Dr. Gurjit K. Khurana Hershey, director of the Center for Translational Research in Asthma and Allergy at Cincinnati Children's, said in a prepared statement.

"Now that we know what genes are turned on during an asthma attack, we will conduct studies to see if this genetic profile can be used to customize care. The current methods of treatment primarily consist of anti-inflammatory drugs, which may not be optimal for acute attacks," Dr. Hershey said.

The study appears the Feb. 10 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about asthma.

SOURCE: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, news release, Feb. 7, 2005
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