Hong Ji, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis
Funded in partnership with the AAAAI Foundation
Seeking Personalized Treatment for Severe Asthma in Children
Asthma remains the leading cause of emergency care and hospitalization in children. Standard asthma treatments including bronchodilators and corticosteroids and are not completely effective in all asthmatics, especially in those with severe/difficult-to-treat asthma. There remains a great need for alternative personalized asthma therapy. We will address this unmet need by identifying biological mechanisms that switch genes on and off for difficult-to-treat childhood asthma and investigate how they contribute to the diversity of patients' disease and response to treatment. Once completed, this research will facilitate better identification of difficult-to-treat asthma and may provide novel therapeutic targets for personalized asthma therapies.
Update: To date, we have studied genetic variations in 106 asthmatic children, half with easy-to-control asthma, half with difficult-to-control asthma. We have identified variations associated with difficult-to-control asthma, which are located in genes relevant to asthma and response to current asthma treatment. Interestingly, some of these markers are also associated with skin sensitization and antibodies called IgE that are produced by the immune system in reaction to allergens. This finding supports the role of IgE in asthma severity and suggests a link between skin sensitization and asthma severity.