Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It’s a Gas: Study Links Exhaled Nitric Oxide with Increased Risk of Childhood Asthma

Studies suggest that elevated FeNO (exhaled nitric oxide) is a reliable biomarker to identify children at increased risk for developing asthma. FeNo testing is non-invasive -- it's measured in exhaled air. Nitric oxide is a gas given off by inflammatory cells in the airways. The painless test may become standard for annual school physicals someday…we can only hope.
Click here to read about a study by U.S. researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Interferon: Asthma’s Holy Grail?

Could there be a cure for asthma on the horizon? Depends on whom you ask and what they know. I’ve sat on both sides of the answer, but now investigators at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center seem to be onto something highly intriguing.

They’ve determined that interferon -- a protein used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C and a variety of cancers -- blocks the production of Th2, cells known to cause inflammation leading to asthma and atopic dermatitis.

Normally, Th2 cells help protect against infections by secreting chemicals that bring on inflammation. However, Th2 cells tend to get carried away in some people -- causing them to over-react when exposed to otherwise harmless substances such as animal dander, pollens and pollutants. Like tapping the first in a long chain of dominoes -- once Th2 cells become reactive, a whole set of inflammatory chain reactions take place, causing common allergic diseases such as asthma and atopic dermatitis.

“This finding is incredibly important because humans are being treated with interferon for a variety of diseases, yet no one has tried treating asthma patients with interferon,” said J. David Farrar, MD, assistant professor of immunology and molecular biology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study. “The current therapies for asthma are inhalers and steroids, both of which offer only temporary relief.”

Dr. Farrar says that in isolated human immune cells, interferon targets and blocks Th2 cells before and after they form. In effect, interferon removes the key domino from the lineup.
But at what doses, and which patients are candidates for therapy, and when will a therapy be ready for use in what ages of patients and… ? So many questions, so little time! That’s why we’re writing about this topic in the Winter 2010 issue of Allergy & Asthma Today. Do you have questions you’d like to ask Dr. Farrar about this study? Send them to

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Exxon Mobil.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

As seen in AAT: Take the sting out of dry, red eyes

Most give it little thought, but we give it a lot! Allergy & Asthma Today advertisers are the best! They help us provide free news, reports, firsthand stories, practical tips, feature articles and other services provided by AANMA.

Advertisers don’t buy their way in; they earn it. They submit an ad for which every claim must be substantiated in writing and on file at AANMA. If we’re not familiar with the product from personal experience, we take it for a test drive – with the exception of prescription medications, of course.

For example, Laurie Ross, AAT Managing Editor, and I both tried OcuFresh eye drops and found them to be soothing. I suffer (ugh) from dry eye and am constantly using one eyedrop brand or another. What I liked about OcuFresh, besides the important fact it's preservative-free, is that each sterile vial contains more than enough liquid to flush both eyes. Laurie is a swimmer who's constantly fighting the chlorine red-eye. She said using OcuFresh took the sting out right away. She also took some of the sting out of the price by printing a coupon at the OcuFresh website:

We know that each person will come to their own conclusions about any of the products advertised in our magazine, but we hope you know that we give them an honest twice-over before including them in our advertising line-up and before we can blog about them. Of course, our “try it” approach isn't scientific and we don’t rely on or acknowledge any self-ordained or paid-for certification programs -- these may give the appearance of being unbiased and/or scientific, but they simply aren’t.

Do you know of a product or company or service that warrants inclusion in Allergy & Asthma Today magazine? Tell us at

Thursday, July 1, 2010

NASN conference was a success -- and "Fit to Breathe" kit coming soon!

At Chicago O'Hare Airport and anxious to get home after hosting "Fit to Breathe Express Seminars on Exercise-Induced Bronchospasm (EIB) for School Nurses at the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) 42nd annual conference.

AANMA loves school nurses -- and according to their exit surveys, they appreciate us, too. "This was the best session I have attended so far at this meeting!" "Thank you for the AeroChamber holding chambers and TruZone peak flow meters and MDI training." "I could have spent the entire day learning from Dr. Michael Foggs and sports nutritionist Lisa Dorfman, and the workshops were great!"

So glad our friends at MBM Productions recorded the program. Soon you'll be able to watch a short segment and order the "Fit to Breathe" kit for use in your school. E-mail and we'll notify you in a couple of weeks when it's ready. Thank you to Teva Respiratory for sponsoring the "Fit to Breathe" seminars!