Scientists from the lab of Bart Lambrecht (VIB-UGent) and Erasmus University have found evidence that interleukin-33 (IL-33), a protein created by white blood cells, is a key driver of allergic sensitivity in the lungs of newborns. While allergy development early in life remains a scientific puzzle, prof. Lambrecht and his team have uncovered new insights into immune responses that could prove key in understanding – and fighting – allergy and asthma in neonates and young children. The results of their research were published in leading peer-reviewed journal Immunity, a publication of Cell Press.
The concept of asthma as a heterogeneous disease is supported by several observations, such as the variable clinical expression of the disease, including symptoms, pulmonary function bronchial hyperresponsiveness and treatment responses. The extent to which heterogeneity of treatment response and associated characteristics exist in inner-city children with asthma has not been defined.
The development of persistent childhood asthma – characterized by having trouble breathing on an almost daily basis – is not well understood. In most cases, childhood asthma resolves with time, but as many as 20 percent of children with asthma will go on to have potentially severe symptoms in adulthood. In the largest and longest U.S. analysis of persistent asthmatics to date, investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) found a link between persistent childhood asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in early adulthood.