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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lab draw may soon be used to diagnose asthma, COPD

A while ago I wrote a post about how doctors diagnose asthma, and while there are many tests that help doctors rule out other diseases, there really is no specific one test that says:  that person has asthma.  Yet a new science might be able to provide such a test.

To diagnose some diseases all you have to do is perform a test, and if the results come back positive then chances are you have that disease.  Sometimes it's as simple as a blood draw.  And this might be an option for doctors in the future who want to diagnose asthma. In fact, this would be significant, because sometimes the diagnosis is hard to make, and sometimes -- believe it or not -- doctors are wrong.

Researchers in Australia are studying proteonics, which is a new area of science that focuses on an organisms function and structure of proteins.  By studying four blood based bio markers, doctors may be able to distinguish between normal lungs, lungs with COPD, and lungs with asthma. 

Proteins in the bio markers are involved in the regulation of inflammation, and usually function as anti-inflammatory proteins.  According to the study, the proteins are liver sensitized, and can have important anti inflammatory activity through the inhibition of oxydative stress, "which has been implicated in several diseases, including heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease."

Such bio markers are obtained by a simple blood test. 

By studying bio markers of disease, this may allow doctors not just to diagnose patients, but to diagnose patients in the early stages of the disease.  This is important for lung diseases, because if treated swiftly and aggressively, further lung damage can be prevented.

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