Local News

Duke Seeks Families For Asthma Study

Posted May 6, 2001 12:40 p.m. EDT

— Duke researchers know asthma is caused by a combination of enviromental and genetic factors. The problem is, they do not know exactly which ones. Researchers like Dr. John Sundy are now asking for your help to discover what causes asthma.

"We are seeing a big increase in the incidence of asthma, but rather than something getting better, we are actually seeing this getting worse," Dr. Sundy says.

"One thing is known," Dr. Sundy continues. "There is a strong genetic component to asthma, and to allergies in general. We have a vague idea of which part of which chromosome is involved, but we do not have a good handle on the number of genes are most important in this."

Finding the right combination of genes would let asthma suffers breathe easier.

"One is that we may learn to develop new treatments," he says.

It could also help future asthma sufferers.

"We may be also able to predict who will develop asthma, so we might be able to identify children or babies at risk, and maybe we can change their environment some way to try to prevent the disease from showing up or make it less severe," says Dr. Sundy.

Here is how you can help.

"We are trying to identify families in which there is a sibling pair with asthma," says Dr. Sundy. "So brother, brother, brother sister, sister, sister pair who have asthma, diagnosed by a doctor and we want to study them and their parents."

There are twelve medical centers in the world searching for people, but Duke is the only one in the United States.

"And our goal here," Dr. Sundy says, "is to enroll about a hundred families from this area. We have about 65 now; we have about 35 to go."

If you have two children with asthma or a sibling with the disease, you can help with the study at Duke by calling Dr. Sundy at 919-668-8871. The tests are done in one visit that takes about four hours. They will look at your asthma history, do allergy and lung functions tests.