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Duke Seeks Families For Asthma Study

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DURHAM — Duke researchers know asthma is caused by a combination of enviromentaland genetic factors. The problem is, they do not know exactly which ones. ResearcherslikeDr. John Sundy are now asking for your help to discover what causesasthma.

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

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

Finding the right combination of genes would let asthma suffers breatheeasier.

"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 beable to identify children or babies at risk, and maybe we can change theirenvironment some way to try to prevent the disease from showing up or makeit less severe," says Dr. Sundy.

Here is how you can help.

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

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

"And our goal here," Dr. Sundy says, "is to enroll about a hundredfamilies 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, youcan help with the study at Duke by calling Dr. Sundy at 919-668-8871. Thetests are done in one visit that takes about four hours. They will look atyour asthma history, do allergy and lung functions tests.


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