Gene May Play Part in How Kids Respond to Asthma Meds: Study

WEDNESDAY, April 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've identified a gene that affects whether children with asthma respond to corticosteroids.

Corticosteroids are the most effective treatment for chronic asthma and acute asthma attacks, but some children don't respond well to the drugs.

Researchers analyzed the genomes of 57 children with asthma, and found that the activity of a gene called VNN-1 affected whether they were good or poor responders to corticosteroid treatment.

The study was published April 21 in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The gene "may serve as a clinically useful biomarker to identify a subset of difficult-to-treat asthmatic children, and targeting the VNN-1 pathway may be useful as a therapeutic strategy," senior study author Dr. Gurjit Khurana Hershey, director of the Asthma Research Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said in a hospital news release.

About 26 million Americans, including 7 million children, have asthma. Forty percent to 70 percent of patients do not respond well to treatment, including the subset of children who do not respond well to corticosteroids, according to the researchers.

"Difficult-to-treat patients account for over 50 percent of health care costs associated with asthma," Hershey said. "There are new drugs that may be helpful, as well as those that affect the VNN-1 pathway, but they have not been tested in asthma."

Over-activity of VNN-1 is associated with a number of health problems, including inflammatory bowel disease and lupus, the researchers added.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about childhood asthma.

SOURCE: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, news release, April 21, 2015

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