Published on July 5, 2012 at 10:43 AM
"Epigenetics refers to changes or modifications in the DNA that alter how genes are switched on and off, without changing the fundamental DNA sequence. Suv39h1 effectively 'tags' the DNA to tell the cells which genes they need to switch on or off to promote an allergic response."
Using agents that inhibit Suv39h1 could destabilise Th2 cells in people who have an excess of these asthma-promoting cells so they no longer cause inflammation, Dr Allan said.
"We had the idea that erasing these epigenetic tags could 'short-circuit' the asthma-promoting Th2 cells and diminish the inflammatory immune response. And, in fact, in mouse models of allergic asthma, blocking this pathway with an inhibitory compound did reduce allergy-related airway damage. Ultimately, our results have identified a potential target for therapeutic intervention in asthma and potentially other Th2-mediated inflammatory diseases, which could improve outcomes for patients," Dr Allan said.
Source: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute