LONDON — Scientists believe they have come significantly closer to finding a gene that triggers asthma, a discovery that could lead to more effective treatment of the disorder, researchers said Sunday.
Dr. William Cookson of Oxford University said his team has determined that the gene is among a stretch of 100 genes on the 11th chromosome. Scientists have long suspected the gene they are looking for is one of thousands on the 11th chromosomal pair.
Asthma, which affects about 1 in 20 people, causes air passageways to narrow during attacks. Medication now used to treat it opens the airways temporarily.
Dr. Allan Weinstein, a clinical professor of medicine at Georgetown University and consultant to the allergy section of the U.S. National Institute of Health, said, “It’s always been clear asthma tends to follow a hereditary basis, but it’s also been clear that other factors such as the environment and or infectious diseases can influence the development of asthma.
“It’s also been thought that asthma involved more than one gene, which may still be the case,” he said.