Genetic marker discovered for asthma treatment responses

Researchers have found a genetic marker that may denote a patient's likelihood of responding to inhaled steroid treatment for asthma. Currently, around 40% of those afflicted with asthma are resistant to the traditional steroid remedy, which works by reducing airway swelling.

According to the over 1,000 person study, which is published in the New England Journal of Medicine, patients with two copies of a GLCCI1 variant gene were less likely to respond to treatments like budesonide from AstraZeneca or fluticasone from GlaxoSmithKline; the treatment efficacy for patients with the double-dose of the genetic marker was one-third of the response from those with two normal copies of the gene.

"The study illustrates the importance of research examining the relationship between genetic makeup and response to therapy for asthma, and underscores the need for personalized treatment for those who have it," said Dr. Susan Shurin, acting director of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, to Reuters.

Many more clinical trials will need to take place to further investigate the role the gene plays in asthma treatment responses, according to Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, editor-in-chief of the NEJM.

- see the Reuters piece
- here's the abstract from NEJM