The Korea Herald


SNU study identifies protein involved in asthma attacks

By Ahn Sang-yool

Published : March 15, 2018 - 14:35

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A university research team has identified a protein produced by immune system that plays a key role in asthma attacks, opening up new possibilities for treatment research.

The team led by professor Chung Doo-hyun at Department of Biomedical Sciences at Seoul National University found that XCL1 protein, produced by immune cells called natural killer T cells, engages with dendritic cells that contribute to the induction of allergic asthma.

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If the lungs are exposed to external substances such as pollen, natural killer T cells inside the lungs activate the XCL1 protein. The XCL1 protein then interacts with dendritic cells, which eventually trigger asthma by forcing the airway smooth muscles – muscles that line the airways of the lung – to contract.

When the research team tried to induce asthma on 50 genetically modified mice without the XCL1 protein and 50 regular mice from 2015, they discovered incidence of asthma in the XCL1 protein-deficient mice to be a quarter of that in the control group.

The finding may result in a breakthrough in treating asthma according to the research team.

“There’s no revolutionary asthma treatment other than steroid injection to temporarily loosen up the airway smooth muscles and maintaining a hygienic environment,” said Chung. “We are hoping to develop an effective treatment for asthma based on our new study.”

By Ahn Sang-yool (