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Asthma is a very prevalent disease in our country today. It affects around 30 million Americans, with 3 million having a severe, possibly fatal form of the disease. An asthma attack occurs when small environmental particles called allergens enter a person’s airway. These particles trigger immune cells and cause some of them to produce antibody responses. Others produce cytokines, particularly IL-4 and IL-14 which are necessary for an asthma attack to take place.
These cytokines activate another molecule called STAT6 that leads to the shrinkage of airways and causes the shortness of breath that is associated with asthma. The treatment for this disease has remained constant for the last 70 to 80 years. Asthma is typically treated with a steroid such as prednisone. Even though the steroids work and prevent the attacks for a short while, doctors are continuing to treat the symptoms without counteracting the underlying causes of the disease. Dr. J. Morgan Knight and Dr. David Corry believe that they have developed a special molecule to treat this common disease called PM-43I. This molecule attacks STAT6, which is considered to be the epicenter of an asthma attack, by attaching to it and stopping its activity all together, thus preventing the asthma attack.
They tested their molecule on mice who do not have STAT6 and are therefore immune to asthma attacks. After several years of research and modeling, they finally found the molecule they were looking for, PM-43I. It prevented the shrinking of the airway for STAT6 dependent allergic airway disease in the mice, and it proved to be completely safe as it passed straight through the kidneys and had no toxicity. Unlike steroids, which break your immune system down and make it hard to fight against other diseases, PM-43I directly targets the disease without compromising your ability to fight other infections. When taking PM-43I, there should be no need for steroids, so the patient’s ability to fight other infections should not be influenced. Currently, the molecule is moving toward its next stages of testing in the chemical trial phase. Hopefully, it will be available to asthma patients everywhere.
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