Researchers want better way to diagnose asthma

Canadian researchers, writing in the Journal of Asthma and Allergy, lay out the reason why finding biomarkers for asthma would be so much more desirable than current methods of simple breathing tests. For one thing, measuring only lung functions does not give the kind of personalized information doctors need to treat different types of asthma. Current tests "may not reflect the precise underlying pathological processes responsible for different phenotypes.," the authors write.

Inhaled corticosteroids have been used to treat asthma for more than 30 years now, but not all asthmatics respond the same way to the same treatment, the authors point out. In addition, high costs of current medication and undesired side-effects all point to the need for better, targeted treatments, they write.

"Biomarkers have the potential to indicate an individual's disease phenotype and thereby guide clinicians in their decisions regarding treatment."

Some possible places to search for asthma biomarkers, they write, include sputum, exhaled gases, exhaled breath condensate, serum and urine.

- read the abstract