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Personalized medicine in asthma: Finding the right targets

Asthma triggered by the influenza virus works through pathways not targeted by existing drugs. (Photo: Cynthia Goldsmith)

A case of the flu almost always exacerbates asthma, and often spells hospitalization for asthmatic children. But why is flu so dangerous, and why are flu-induced exacerbations so hard to control?

New research reveals that these attacks arise via a previously unrecognized physiologic pathway that appears to bypass existing asthma drugs.

“Virtually everyone who comes into the hospital with asthma has a viral infection, because we just can’t treat it well,” says Dale Umetsu, the study’s senior investigator and an immunologist at Children’s Hospital Boston. “If we could find better therapies that specifically target this pathway, we might be able to help these patients.”

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