Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn, report the identification of a gene that controls the clinical severity of asthma. According to senior study author Richard Bucala, MD, PhD, an internal medicine professor at the school, "asthma patients who have high production variants of the macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) gene are more likely to have severe disease." The study was reported in the September 2005 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers examined 151 Caucasian patients with mild, moderate, and severe asthma. The findings showed that there was an association between mild asthma and lower expressions of MIF. Dr. Bucala stated that this discovery shows that, once you have asthma, there are genes that are going to control the severity of it.
"These results support an important role for MIF in the pathogenesis of human asthma," Dr. Bucala said. "A drug treatment to lower MIF in patients may be beneficial and could be guided by the MIF genotype of affected individuals."