Asthma affects one in 10 Australians and is the most common chronic respiratory disease in the developed world.
About 10 per cent of asthma sufferers do not respond to conventional medications due to the severity of their condition.
UQ Institute of Molecular Bioscience’s Associate Professor Mark Smythe said the research team was developing a new drug designed to offer patients a safer and more effective treatment.
“Current inhaled steroids are designed to treat the symptoms of asthma, not the underlying cause,” Mr Smythe said.
“Long-term use of current drug therapies can also cause unwanted side-effects, particularly when taking high doses of steroids.
“Effects can include a reduced growth rate in children and the weakening of bones in adults.”
The researchers are creating new drug therapies that target hematopoietic prostaglandin synthase (HPGD2S) – the enzyme responsible for the overproduction of prostaglandin D2 (PGD2), which plays a role in inflammation and allergies.
“HPGD2 is well recognised as an enzyme which is involved in bringing on asthma, which makes it a valid target for new drug treatments,” Mr Smythe said.
Mr Smythe and his colleagues have developed a HPGD2S compound that can be taken orally and can prevent PGD2 production in animals.
To speed up the development of these potential drugs, Mr Smythe has partnered with a team of advisors from the biotechnology industry who have significant commercial and drug discovery experience.
The team has received an extension on a National Health and Medical Research Council Development Grant to build on their progress and develop these lead compounds into viable asthma treatments.