STEPHANIA MACKENZIE is a seasoned vet.
She’s a professor of biology and public health at the University of Minnesota, a board member of the American Asthma Society and the executive director of the Asthma & Allergy Foundation.
But she’s also been at the forefront of asthma research.
And she’s taken the first step toward understanding how asthma affects the lungs.
“I’ve been looking for the right gene to understand how this gene works,” Mackenzie said.
“And I’ve been doing it by studying the genetics of asthma and how it affects the lung.”
Mackenzie has a long history with asthma.
She was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 14 and had to undergo three rounds of treatment.
She eventually started breathing again.
The disease’s cause, called astra, is poorly understood.
She said she never got a full diagnosis and didn’t have the proper treatment.
So Mackenzie began to search for a genetic explanation for her condition.
“When I started out, I didn’t really know what I was looking for,” she said.
She started to look at other genes that had been linked to asthma and found one that showed up in the same gene.
That gene, called Lp3, has been shown to be linked to increased risk of lung cancer.
“It was a really surprising gene to find that you were having a lung cancer and you weren’t,” Mackenzie said.
Now, the Minnesota native is leading the search for another gene that may be responsible for asthma.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., have identified a gene that codes for a protein called Astra2.
“That protein has been identified in the lung, but we know that Astra is involved in inflammation,” said co-senior author Stephen Stokow, a professor in the Mayo clinic’s Department of Medical Genetics.
Stokow and his team found Astra1 in human lung cancer cells, but they have not yet found Asta2 in people with asthma and are awaiting results from the first clinical trial of Astra in people.
So they’re trying to identify people with this gene in order to identify patients who are most at risk.
“We need to identify these people who have a very high risk of having asthma and to understand whether that’s the case,” Stokows said.
Stakow said the team will try to identify Astra genes from people who live in cities and who have more frequent asthma exacerbations.
But it’s not just a gene search.
Researchers are also trying to understand the genetic variation that contributes to asthma in people who don’t smoke.
“You don’t know whether or not the genetic variants are being passed down or whether they’re having effects in the environment,” Stakow explained.
The gene found in Astra appears to be involved in the inflammatory response, Stokowers said.
“The immune response is really important to how we fight inflammation,” he said.
The team is studying Astra as part of a larger effort to understand asthma and asthma-related diseases, including asthma.
“It’s like a fingerprint of the disease,” Stoksow said.
Astra is found in both human and animal species.
It’s also found in plants and bacteria.
So researchers think it may be a protein that functions in the body and that could be a factor in the immune response to asthma.
The protein, Astra, plays a critical role in how the body responds to air pollution.
It helps fight bacterial infections.
“There are genes that have different functions, but Astra plays a role in inflammation, so it might be a gene or a protein, and we’ll look at that,” Stosow said, adding that more research is needed to see if Astra can be involved with asthma or other respiratory disorders.
But it may also be a genetic variant that’s causing asthma.
It could be that some of the genes that are associated with asthma are involved in asthma and other lung diseases.
Stoksow says this gene is likely more common in people of African descent, who are more likely to be exposed to air pollutants.
But he said the researchers still need to find more information about Astra to understand more about its role in asthma.
“Astra2 has been found to be associated with both asthma and lung cancer, but I think that it may only be in people at high risk for asthma,” Stokes said.
He said Astra also plays a key role in other types of asthma, including COPD, which causes inflammation in the lungs and other organs.
But the exact genetic differences between asthma and COPD remain unknown.
“People with asthma can be exposed and develop COPD if they don’t take asthma medications, but it may take a long time for that effect to kick in,” Stops said.
Scientists don’t have any specific treatment for asthma, so many people suffer