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A new, simple test could help the millions of children in the UK who are suffering from asthma, to get the right amount of medication to help prevent future dangerous asthma attacks.
Research carried out by a team of scientists at Queen Mary Hospital London has found that a newly developed urine test can accurately measure levels of inflammation which could pre-empt an imminent attack, and in turn prevent worsening symptoms, hospital admissions and even in rare cases – death.
The United Kingdom currently has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma in the world, with the condition affecting more than 1 million children nationwide.
The research team at Queen Mary Hospital London analysed 73 children aged between the years of 7 and 15, and reviewed the feasibility of tests which were both efficient and non-invasive in finding the optimum level of anti-inflammatory treatment for asthma.
By analysing the levels of chemicals in urine, which are released by immune cells that are activated in asthma, scientists can almost predict when the child is likely to have their next asthma attack.
If the levels of ‘protective’ prostaglandins is greatly reduced, the likelihood of the child having an asthma attack increases, as the lower levels of this immune cell chemical signal a worsening of their asthmatic condition.
Dr Rossa Brugha is a co-author and lead researcher at the Queen Mary London Hospital and said, “The key factor in treating children with asthma is to tailor their medicine accurately, ensuring the right amount of anti-inflammatory medication is being prescribed. This simple urine test provides an accurate way to assess chemical markers in the child’s urine, which show the levels of inflammation caused by the asthma.”
She added, “When children see their GP for their annual review, we hope that this test can help indicate the level of steroid medication they actually need. If implemented it will help the child to manage their asthma more effectively and hopefully reduce the number of asthma attacks.”