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Protein May Protect Against Lung Disease Damage

Same molecule thought to cause problems may guard against chronic conditions

TUESDAY, Jan. 4, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- A protein believed to cause lung problems may actually help protect the lungs against damage caused by asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases, says a University of Texas Medical School at Houston study.

In research with mice bred to mimic human chronic lung disease, the scientists found that knocking out the A1 adenosine receptor resulted in higher levels of inflammation, mucus and tissue damage in the lungs of the mice. The mice who lacked this protein also died sooner.

"Some believe this receptor protein plays a detrimental role and if you block it, you could improve asthma. This study shows that if you remove this protein from a diseased lung, you'll make lung inflammation and damage worse," study senior author Michael R. Blackburn, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, said in a prepared statement.

"It will be important to examine the interplay of adenosine receptor signaling in other model systems as well in the lungs of people suffering chronic lung disease to determine how these pathways might be manipulated to treat the progression of asthma and COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]," Blackburn said.

The study appears in the Jan. 4 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

More information

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

SOURCE: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, news release, Jan. 3, 2005
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