New therapy target for allergic asthma

18 January 2016

Allergic - asthma

Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute tracked a gene called Trim-24 in mice to uncover a new molecular pathway that leads to asthma.

Dr Wilson of the Crick (currently based at Mill Hill) said: "Using mice with symptoms like those of people with asthma we have found a new molecular pathway in T cells. These T cells orchestrate the allergic response that leads to wheezing and other airway problems. We disrupted Trim-24 in T cells and found that it is essential for asthma. This makes the pathway a potential target for new therapeutic approaches to prevent and treat asthma."

Dr Wilson's team used a computer simulation to hunt through large data sets of T cells from asthmatic mice, looking for links to explain why they caused allergic asthma. The search revealed the Trim-24 gene was active in T cells that react to dust mites.

When the researchers looked at the influence of Trim-24 on T cells in mice the new pathway was uncovered.

The research opens up a new avenue for asthma research. Dr Wilson explained: "One in 10 people in the UK suffer from allergic asthma. The typical steroid inhaler treatment doesn't work for everyone so there is an urgent need to identify new molecular targets to prevent allergic asthma and asthma attacks. Trim-24, a gene not previously identified or investigated in allergy, is essential for the hyper activation of T cells, making pathways controlled by the gene potential targets for development of new therapies.''

Dr Wilson reported that the next step is to study Trim-24 activity in people who have allergic asthma to see how, and if, disrupting T cell activity in humans could prevent allergic asthma.

The paper, T-cell-intrinsic Tif1α/Trim24 regulates IL-1R expression on TH2 cells and TH2 cell-mediated airway allergy, is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • Francis Crick Institute researchers have discovered a gene that controls allergic asthma and is a possible new target for treatments to prevent asthma attacks.
  • The next step is to study the gene's activity in people with allergic asthma.