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The experimental cancer drug R-Roscovitine might also help people suffering from asthma, according to research at Edinburgh University.
Trial results showing that the drug helps kill immune cells known as eosinophils that worsen asthma symptoms have been published in the journal FEBS Letters.
While eosinophils help the body fight parasitic infections, they can also damage cells that line the lung and worsen inflammatory conditions such as asthma.
The research notes that R-Roscovitine causes eosinophil cells to undergo apoptosis, a natural process of cell death resulting in unwanted cells being removed from the body.
Professor Adriano Rossi, at the university’s Centre for Inflammation Research said: “Steroids are commonly used to treat asthma but can have unwanted side-effects, while some asthma patients are also resistant to steroid treatment.
“It may well be that use of a drug such as R-Roscovitine, or one that works in a similar same way, could offer an alternative to steroids, or be used in conjunction with steroid treatment for asthma patients.”
Copyright Press Association 2009