New research led by Edith Cowan University has made an important discovery that could lead to more effective treatments for the world’s 262 million asthmatics.
A study led by Dr. Stacey Reinke (ECU) and Dr. Craig Wheelock (Karolinska Institute, Sweden) found that severe asthmatics have a clear biochemical (metabolite) profile detectable in their urine, compared to mild to moderate asthmatics and healthy subjects.
Researchers analyzed urine samples from more than 600 participants from 11 countries as part of the U-BIOPRED study, a European initiative to identify and better understand different subtypes of severe asthma.
The research team discovered a specific type of metabolite called carnitines, which was reduced in severe asthmatics.
Carnitines play an important role in cellular energy generation and immune responses.
Further analyzes found that carnitine metabolism was lower in severe asthmatics.
These new findings will enable researchers to work on new, more effective therapies for asthma patients.
dr. Reinke, of ECU’s Center for Integrative Metabolomics and Computational Biology, said it’s vital to improve asthma treatment.
“Asthma affects 2.7 million Australians and there were 417 asthma-related deaths in Australia in 2020,” said Dr. Reinke.
“Severe asthma occurs when a person’s asthma is not controlled despite treatment with many drugs and/or multiple drugs.
“In order to identify and develop new treatment options, we first need to better understand the underlying mechanisms of the disease.”
One way to do this is by examining the body’s chemical profile, or “metabolome,” which provides a snapshot of a person’s current physiological state and useful insight into disease processes.
“In this case, we were able to use the urinary metabolome of asthma patients to identify fundamental differences in energy metabolism that could be a target for new interventions in asthma control,” said Dr. Reinke.
dr. Reinke said it could be difficult and invasive to examine the lungs directly, but luckily they contain many blood vessels.
“Therefore, any biochemical changes in the lungs can get into the bloodstream and then be excreted through the urine,” she said.
“These are preliminary results, but we will continue to investigate carnitine metabolism to evaluate its potential as a novel target for the treatment of asthma.”
Urinary Metabotype of Severe Asthma Evidences Reduced Carnitine Metabolism Independent of Oral Corticosteroid Treatment in the U-BIOPRED Study was published in the European Respiratory Diary†