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Friday, December 21, 2007

Scientists develop new cure for asthma, allergies

We are now in the year 2039 and you click on the compuTV to hear an aging Anderson Cooper reporting on a new medication approved by the FDA that is predicted to "end asthma and allergies as we now know it."

You learn that the new medication is called Allergycure, and it is a one time injection to neonates within the first week of life that works to mature the immune system in any child with the "faulty gene" that, if triggered, causes allergies, asthma and/or eczema.

The goal of this therapy is to prevent these diseases. Studies on mice and pigs showed that Allergycure had an efficacy rate of 90% over 10 years. However, whether or not the medication will prevent the "faulty gene" from being triggered later in life is yet unknown.

Despite the prospects of eliminating asthma, a controversy has evolved. While the medicine is predicted to prevent asthma, there is the risk that it might actually cause asthma in 6% of neonates who do not have the "faulty gene." So it is paramount that each new child is tested for the "faulty gene" prior to getting Allergycure.

Likewise, Allergycure has also caused flu like symptoms in 6% of the neonates who get it, and, in studies, 20% of those patients ended up on ventilators with severe pulmonary complications and 2% died. Overall, 98% of those tested with Allergycure never acquired asthma and never had any side effects.

After an intense debate in the Senate, a bill making it mandatory that all newborns with the "faulty gene" be given Allergycure passes by a vote of 85 to 15.

"Yes, there are some complications to Allergycure that must be worked out," said Senate Majority leader Alec Baldwin Jr. "But this bill will prevent millions from suffering from asthma, prevent the need for spending billions on asthma medications and hospital stays, and eliminate thousands of annual deaths from "faulty gene" related diseases."

In a ceremony on Christmas Eve, President Will Smith signed the bill saying, "This is a great day for pulmonary medicine in America, and perhaps the greatest Christmas gift to current asthma sufferers. What we have proven by me signing this legislature is that gene therapy may some day cure the most severe diseases that ail us, not just asthma"

Along with neonates, the bill allows for all current sufferers of allergies, eczema or asthma to voluntarily report to their doctor to receive the medication. However, there is no guarantee that the medicine will work for them.

Dr. Emery Yoe of National Jewish Medical and Research Center said, "Allergycure can be given to current asthma and eczema patients to prevent any further allergy complications? This might be great for patients with mild cases, but it will not cure asthma, especially if the patient has permanent lung damage from previous asthma attacks."

He said, for example, that if a person is exposed Rhino virus, he will still get a cold and his body will still attack the virus, and this may result in bronchospasm. The same will hold true if a person already diagnosed with asthma is exposed to bacteria; Allergycure will not prevent your body from fighting off the infection.

Some children, Yoe explained, will still develop asthma. "While science is advancing fast in this area, you will still have a few children born with immature lungs that lend them to being susceptible to developing asthma later in life, and you will still have some children exposed to certain bacteria or, for example, the Rhino Virus, where they will develop pulmonary complications and lend to the inevitability of asthma later on. And even though some will still develop asthma, they will not have allergies, which will bode well for them."

He said that research is still being conducted to "completely eliminate asthma, although it may take some years. Yet, still, Allergycure will mean great things to many."

On this great day, Will Smith proclaimed in his speech to the World, "Scientists predict that by the year 2049 there will be no children under the age of 10 with asthma, and all other asthmatics will have 2,600,000 fewer asthma attacks, saving the economy over $300 billion in medical costs. And, most important, preventing milions from suffering.

"And," he continued, "scientists predict that by the turn of the next century, asthma will be completely eliminated. This is something we can breathe easy about."

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