Written by Brittany Graham
Produced for online by Maudy Veltema
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Doctors and researchers are working together to formulate a drug to fight asthma following new research showing the possible benefits from the hormone testosterone.
The study conducted by the Journal of Experimental Medicine reveals women are more susceptible to asthma than men because males naturally have higher levels of testosterone that protect them against the development of allergic asthma.
Senior Research Scientist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research Dr Cyril Seillet says the study found asthma-causing cells were greatly affected by the male sex hormone testosterone.
The research team found the cells that have been linked to the initiation of asthma can respond to testosterone by stopping their production.
“We think that the therapy could be very beneficial for people, because we are not only treating the symptoms of asthma, we are actually trying to treat the cell that is responsible for asthma,” he says
However, he says it’s important to ensure the hormonal levels in the body are not changed by this treatment.
To this end, the institute is developing a drug that will target particular cells and not affect other tissue.
Melbourne-based Respiratory and Sleep Physician Jonathan Burdon says women could be negatively affected by increased testosterone levels because of the masculinising effect it could have.
He also says more research needs to be conducted to proof high levels of testosterone cure asthma before he can be convinced about this new potential.
“If testosterone would cure asthma, then we would see very few men with asthma.
“This is certainly an interesting finding which could potentially provide a new form of therapy for people with asthma, but there’s a long way to go,” he says.