Asthma is similar to an allergic reaction, where a person’s airways become inflamed so severely that they have difficulty breathing. The reaction is caused by pollens, dust or other factors, like overwhelming emotion or stress. Asthma can be fatal if the airways close up altogether. Every year, asthma attacks are responsible for 36,000 hospital admissions and 402 deaths, not to mention over $600 million a year in direct costs.
Asthma is relatively common in Australia; about 1 in 6 children and 1 in 9 adults have asthma.
QIMR Berghofer is leading the largest study of asthma genetics in Australia (the Australian Asthma Genetics Consortium) to identify genes that increase a person’s risk of developing asthma. This study brings together the leading asthma genetics researchers from throughout Australia, including researchers from The University of Melbourne, Monash University, University of Western Australia, Woolcock Institute and the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital.
Our research focuses on:
- understanding the genetic causes of asthma
- trialling a rheumatoid arthritis medication as a possible treatment for asthma.
Our recent research has found:
- a gene that is targeted for arthritis treatments has a significant role in asthma. From this, we are hoping that these treatments can be used to treat asthma sufferers.