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January 22, 2015

Researchers work toward safer asthma drug

Thomas Jefferson researchers find a better path for relief

A new study by researchers at Thomas Jefferson University has identified a promising new drug target that could change the face of asthma treatments.

Many asthmatics currently use beta-agonists, which allow users to breathe better turning on receptors to relax muscles lining the airways. However, they can stop working for some patients.

Jeffrey Benovic, biochemist and senior author of the study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, told NewsWorks that the Jefferson team is working to design a better way to get the benefits without the risks.

"If we want to really develop a better asthma drug," he said, "we need to identify a small molecule, which will interact with the receptor and stabilize that same conformation."

The team has discovered a specialized peptide that appears to trigger only a portion of the receptor's effects in the cells, but Benovic says it may take several years before it's ready.

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