Genes May Predict Who Responds to Inhalers

Genetics could explain why 40 percent of asthma sufferers do not respond to inhaled steroids

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A genetic difference may explain why some asthma sufferers respond well to inhalers and some don't. About 40 percent of asthma patients don't respond well to inhaled steroids.

Asthma patients who inherit two copies of a certain gene variant are much less likely to respond to inhalers as opposed to patients with two copies of a common version of the gene, Reuters reported.

"Ask about alternate treatments if you get little relief from an inhaler."

Dr. Kelan Tantisira, assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, found that individuals who inherit two copies of a genetic variant of the GLCCI1 gene are less likely to respond to inhaled steroids, a common asthma treatment that works by reducing airway swelling.

Investigators from both Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School tested the genetic information of 1,000 participants already enrolled in a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of various asthma treatments.

They used a family model to study the genetic makeup of children with asthma and their parents to pinpoint genes that could contribute to a response to inhaled steroids.

In patients that did not respond well to inhaled steroids, the treatment prompted an improvement of only a third of the level of lung improvement seen in patients with two copies of the more common gene variant.

Clinical trials still are need to see if treatments can be improved based on the genetic response of patients.

The research was presented Monday at the European Respiratory Society Congress in Amsterdam.

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Review Date: 
September 26, 2011
Last Updated:
September 26, 2011