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New insight into asthma


Narrator:         This is Science Today. It's been commonly thought that asthma is caused by the inhalation of allergens, but new research at the University of California, San Francisco reveals it may be more complicated than that. Study leader Yvonne Huang explains that asthma may be linked to bacterial communities that live in the respiratory tract.

Huang:            We thought that the respiratory tract was pretty clean by our own immune system keeping it clear, but with some studies that are coming out in the last year or two, it suggests that there are bacterial and other organisms that live down there chronically and may be playing some role in determining whether we have a healthy sort of state in our airways versus a diseased state, like asthma.

Narrator:        Huang and her colleagues found that asthmatics had far more organisms in their respiratory tract than healthy patients. Also, the type of bacteria present impacted airway sensitivity.

Huang:            And so the finding might have implications for thinking about new ways to approach developing new therapies for asthma. We have some good therapies, but we're also recognizing that the available therapies aren't effective for everyone with asthma.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.