Dec. 10, 1997 DENVER-A National Jewish Medical and Research Center researcher who earlier reported genetic variations of interleukin-4 in people predisposed to asthma and allergies writes in today’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine that new research increasing understanding of the role of IL-4 receptors in genetic predisposition to these diseases deserves continued exploration.
"Research on genetic variations of IL-4 and IL-4 receptors will have value as markers for susceptibility and as models that may lead to innovative treatments for allergic disease and asthma," said Lanny Rosenwasser, M.D., head, Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunolgy at National Jewish.
The new research expands scientists’ understanding of IL-4 receptors. IL-4, a type of protein, or cytokine, released by cells when they come in contact with an allergen, causes the body’s immune system to release substances that cause inflammation in diseases such as asthma. IL-4 is also instrumental in causing the immune sytem to produce the allergic antibody IgE. When activated by an allergen entering the body, IL-4 binds to IL-4 receptors causing a series of immune responses by cells. These responses can cause inflammation of the airways.
In clinical trials at National Jewish, researchers are using a soluble form of IL-4 receptors to treat people with asthma who have a particularly high number of the IL-4 receptors. Researchers hope to "turn off" IL-4’s immune response to allergens.
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