Natural Relaxant May Help Asthma

Scientists say a substance which acts naturally to open airways could be used to protect against asthma. Duke University Medical Center researchers found mice with asthma had too little of the chemical, which relaxes airways so people can breathe. Asthma research has previously tended to focus on what might cause airways to become constricted. The researchers, writing in Science, said their findings could lead to new ways of treating the condition. It is estimated that 5.2 million people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma, including 1.1 million children. The US researchers identified the natural compound, called nitrosoglutathione (GSNO), a molecule in the nitric oxide (NO) family, which keeps airways open. Tests have shown people with asthma have too little GSNO. So drugs which increase levels of the compound could offer a way of treating the obstructed airways, the researchers say.

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