Asthma is a chronic airway inflammatory disease characterized by attacks of breathlessness and wheezing which occur with varied severity and frequency. The epithelium is the outer layer of cells in the breathing tubes that is exposed to various agents in the environment, and needs to constantly maintain and repair itself in response to stimuli and insults. Asthma patients generally have defective mechanisms in airway epithelium repair.
One research focus of Dr. Del Dorscheid and his team is to understand how a molecule called IL13 repairs and maintains the airway epithelium “wall” against the environment. In this work, Dr. Dorscheid’s team discovered that a protein receptor, IL13Rα2, which responds to the IL13 molecule, is a key player in resolving injuries to the airway epithelium. Importantly, they also discovered that asthmatic lung airways have dramatically less IL13Rα2.
Together, this study points to the IL13/IL13Rα2 pathway as an important node to consider for the design of asthma therapies.
This study was featured in Science and the City.