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Tech Transfer
These transgenic mice are contributing to a better understanding of the complex disease of asthma. []


Good News for Asthma Sufferers

Hang out long enough in any U.S. schoolyard and you’ll see at least one child using an inhaler to clear his or her swollen air passages. Asthma is approaching epidemic proportions, and children living in urban areas are particularly susceptible. Fourteen million Americans suffer from asthma, double the number of 15 years ago. There are treatments for the symptoms of an asthma attack, but no cure.

A message of hope was delivered when Berkeley Lab researchers, led by Edward Rubin and Derek Symula of the Life Sciences Division, characterized two genes that contribute to the development of asthma.

Working with transgenic mice (mice that carry human genes), the researchers rapidly sifted through the area where the "asthma suspicious" genes had been localized to pinpoint the two (interlukin genes IL4 and IL13) responsible for asthma susceptibility. Their studies suggest that decreasing the activity of these two genes could help reduce susceptibility to asthma attacks.

Says Rubin, "The approach we used to pursue asthma genes may now be applied to other common complex genetic conditions, for instance hypertension and obesity, where large genomic regions have been implicated as containing genes contributing to a particular disease."

Berkeley Lab's transgenic mice are available for licensing and bailment from the Technology Transfer Department.

Last updated: 09/17/2009