Arizona researchers seek genetic treatment for asthma

Julie Ledford (left) together with research partner Monica Kraft (right).
Julie Ledford (left) together with research partner Monica Kraft (right).
Researchers at the University of Arizona (UA) are researching new ways to treat the estimated 278 million people around the world suffering from asthma.

Julie Ledford and Monica Kraft are working on new therapies that are intended to not only address asthma symptoms like current treatments do, but that could also help stop the condition from progressing.

Ledford and Kraft are working together at UA’s BIO5 Institute to discover new treatments for asthma and lung disease by following the genetic trail. The team has uncovered evidence that genetic mutations in the pulmonary surfactant protein A, or SP-A, could be the source of some lung diseases like asthma.

Ledford is an assistant professor of medicine and immunobiology at the UA College of Medicine and has been studying the mechanics of SP-A since her days as a student. Working with pulmonary and asthma specialist Kraft, she has shown SP-A could be a major factor in how susceptible different people are to respiratory problems.

"One of the things we are researching is why some people with dysfunctional SP-A have acute responses when infected with pulmonary pathogens, while others end up suffering from chronic diseases, such as asthma," Ledford said.

"One of the things we are researching is why some people with dysfunctional SP-A have acute responses when infected with pulmonary pathogens, while others end up suffering from chronic diseases, such as asthma," Ledford said.

Armed with that theory, Kraft and Ledford aim to develop new genetic therapies to cut off asthma and other pulmonary diseases at the source.

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University of Arizona Department of Medicine Tucson, AZ - 85721

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