The researchers have studied the genes of 1,200 young children aged between two and six who had been hospitalised several times because of severe asthma attacks, and compared them with 2,500 healthy people.
Today doctors use the same medication to treat different types and degrees of asthma, but the researchers hope that improved understanding of the sub-types of the disease will pave the way for individualised treatment in future.
"Although good asthma medication is available today, it doesn't work for everyone. Specifically we need effective medicine to prevent very young children from being hospitalised and to treat them once they have been admitted. That's why we started looking at this particular group. Because asthma symptoms are fairly similar in all children, doctors tend to approach the condition in the same way. However, in reality asthma has many different underlying mechanisms, which need to be individually mapped," says Klaus Bnnelykke. He explains that to date researchers have focused on various theories about asthma attack prevention in young children, for example, recommending breastfeeding and avoiding pets and dust mites in the home.
"We know that children exposed to smoking have a higher risk of asthma attacks, but beyond that, none of our advice has really helped, and we won't make any progress until we understand the individual sub-types of asthma and their underlying mechanisms. In this respect knowledge about risk genes is an important step in the right direction," he points out.
Large volume of data
The study was headed by Klaus Bnnelykke and his colleague Hans Bisgaard, Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Copenhagen, chief physician of the Copenhagen Studies of Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC) and head of the Danish Paediatric Asthma Center. The study was conducted in collaboration wi
|Contact: Klaus Bønnelykke|
University of Copenhagen