News of note—GSK-backed lung map reveals asthma targets; a new way to combat the common cold

Lungs illustration (Image: Pixabay)
A new map reveals key differences between normal and asthmatic lungs. (Pixabay)

GSK-backed lung map reveals new targets in asthma
Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, with support from GlaxoSmithKline and others, have produced a comprehensive map of the human lung that reveals key differences between normal and asthmatic patients. Using samples from 17 people, the team analyzed 36,000 different cells from the lungs and nasal passages, tracking the specific genes that were active in each one. They then compared the results to different cell types found in six patients with asthma. Among the discoveries was a new mucous-producing cell state, they reported in the journal Nature Medicine. They believe their findings could help researchers identify new asthma drug targets. (Release)

An antiviral to attack the common cold?
Scientists at the University of Leuven in Belgium have discovered a compound that they believe could hold promise in treating picornaviruses, which include rhinoviruses that cause the common cold. The compound works by lodging itself into a pocket on the surface of the viruses, which prevents them from undergoing the rapid mutations that allow them to replicate, spread, and sometimes become resistant to antiviral medications. The researchers were able to generate several variants of the drug, which they believe could offer a way to fight many different types of picornaviruses, they reported in the journal PLOS Biology. (Release)

Antibody cocktail could allow transplant of mismatched organs
Stanford scientists have discovered that a combination of six antibodies could adequately prepare mice to receive blood and stem cells from any donor, regardless of whether they were immunologically matched. From there, the animals were able to take organ or tissue transplants that matched those of the donor cells. They did not require ongoing immune suppression, the researchers reported in the journal Cell Stem Cell. The antibody cocktail worked by eliminating several types of immune cells in the animals’ bone marrow. The researchers plan to test the antibody mixture in a large animal model, followed by transplant with mismatched stem cells, with hopes of moving on to human testing. (Release)