Connect with Your Network to Improve Asthma Control

World Asthma Day (WAD) takes place each year on the first Tuesday in May. The annual event, organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), raises asthma awareness and care around the world. Continuing last year’s positive theme, the WAD 2012 theme is “You Can Control Your Asthma”. The campaign emphasizes asthma control as described in the latest version of the GINA guideline documents [1]. Asthma control is also the focus of GINA’s Asthma Control Challenge, a five-year campaign to reduce asthma hospitalizations worldwide by fifty percent.

World Asthma Day 2012

Food Allergies: Nature or Nurture?

The emerging field of epigenetics has added a new dimension to the “nature versus nurture” debate, by which researchers have historically attempted to determine whether a characteristic was influenced by genes or environment. Increasingly, it appears that environmental influences can affect gene expression, meaning that “nature” and “nurture” are inextricable from one another to an even greater extent than previously understood.

DNA structureImage credit: DNA structure via Shutterstock

FDA Removing Over-the-counter Asthma Drug From Shelves for Environment

Users of Primatene Mist, the only over-the-counter treatment for acute symptoms of asthma, will need to find an alternative as of December 31, 2011. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that the medication will no longer be available because it uses chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a propellant agent [1], and CFCs have long been known to deplete Earth’s ozone layer.

Primatine Mist spray

A Step Toward Personalized Asthma Treatment, Gene Variant Linked to Drug Response

Inhaled corticosteroids are used by millions of asthma patients every day. However, as with all treatments to control asthma, there is marked patient-to-patient variability in the response to treatment. New research published today in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has identified a genetic variant associated with the response to inhaled corticosteroids [1]. Investigators have found that asthma patients who have two copies of a specific gene variant responded only one-third as well to steroid inhalers as those with two copies of the regular gene.

Asthmatic using an inhaler

Moderate Levels of Secondhand Smoke Deliver Nicotine to the Brain

Exposure to secondhand smoke, such as a person can get by riding in an enclosed car while someone else smokes, has a direct, measurable impact on the brain — and the effect is similar to what happens in the brain of the person doing the smoking. In fact, exposure to this secondhand smoke evokes cravings among smokers, according to a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Secondhand smoke

The study, published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, used positron emission tomography (PET) to demonstrate that one hour of secondhand smoke in an enclosed space results in enough nicotine reaching the brain to bind receptors that are normally targeted by direct exposure to tobacco smoke [1]. This happens in the brain of both smokers and non-smokers.