16 July 2018

Researchers uncover how infant viral infections become childhood asthma

This article describes Queensland research into why infants who were hospitalised with severe viral respiratory infections as babies are more likely to develop asthma by age five. The research has identified the important role that a cell messenger called prostaglandin 2 plays in making it harder for these children's immune system to clear the viral infection. The researchers found that if the action of  prostaglandin 2 was blocked from reaching its target, recovery from the virus occurred more quickly. This particular type of cell messenger has been linked to driving allergic inflammation in asthma. The research suggested that blocking its action also restores the immune system’s ability to fight a viral infection and reduces the risk of a child developing asthma as well as reducing the likelihood of an asthma attack in those who already suffer with asthma. The researchers suggest their research may lead to the development of an early preventative treatment to stop the onset of asthma in children.