RNA Interference as a Therapeutic Agent for Asthma
    Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs marked by labored breathing, chest constriction, and coughing. Asthma has a significant health and economic impact. It afflicted an estimated 14.9 million persons in 1995 and caused over 1.5 million emergency department visits, about 500,000 hospitalizations, and over 5,500 deaths1. The economic price is an estimated $13 billion in annual healthcare costs. The incidence of asthma has been steadily increasing in industrialized nations in the past 20 years despite progress in understanding the disease. Asthma mostly afflicts children ages 5-14.  Conclusion%20%26%20References.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0
There is great interest in novel therapeutics for asthma more specific than current treatment methods. Most current treatments seek to relieve symptoms, i.e. bronchodilators administered via inhalers or prevent asthma, but do not treat the disease at a more fundamental level. In example, one current treatment option, corticosteroid administration, only resolves the problem of bronchoconstriction but does not tackle the more fundamental problem of immunological (i.e. cytokine) balance. The new so-called causal allergy treatment seeks for restoration of balance of cytokine-mediated regulation of allergen-driven immunological response. These therapeutics seek to target only the molecules involved in the allergy-involved molecules, but not the by-standing particles or reactions. 2

RNA interference (RNAi) is a hot new topic in biotechnology that involves introducing a foreign double-stranded RNA that essentially silences the complementary mRNA in the target cell. In the context of asthma, an inflammatory disease of the lungs, this may involve silencing the genes for certain cytokines, chemokines, cytokine receptors, chemokine receptors, protein kinases, cell adhesion molecules or gene transcription factors involved in the inflammatory cascade. This website discusses approaches for treating asthma with RNAi technologies. However, we will begin with an introduction to RNAi and then a cell and molecular review of asthma as these ideas are prerequisite for understanding the approaches for treating this disease. We will then discuss approaches for delivering RNA interference.