B190 - Genetics of asthma GWAS - 01/09/2004

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Prof William Cookson (Imperial College London, UK)
Title of project: 
Genetics of asthma (GWAS).
Proposal summary: 

Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways of the lung. Asthmatics suffer from intermittent airflow

limitation and the symptoms of wheeze and shortness of breath.

Asthma is not one disease but many. In childhood it is commonly associated with allergy (atopy) to

common inhaled proteins (allergens). Significant numbers of children with disease have persistent symptoms

throughout life. Asthma also may present in later life, when it is less obviously associated with allergy, more

common in women and cigarette smokers, and often resistant to treatment. The combination of cigarette

smoking and asthma can produce chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is the sixth most common

cause of death worldwide. Occupational asthma is due to workplace exposure to dusts and chemicals, and is

the most prevalent occupational lung disease in the European Community. Ten % of new onset adult asthma

cases are caused by workplace exposures, and the prognosis of most forms of occupational asthma is poor

and is associated with job loss, loss of income and loss of quality of life.

Asthma has a high prevalence and a chronic relapsing course. Childhood asthma is a global health

problem that imposes a burden on family, health care and society as a whole, and results in a massive social

and economic cost to the community.

A recent cost-of-illness study requested by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European

Commission has estimated the total burden of asthma in children under the age of 15 in the 25 EU member

states to be EUR3.0 billion each year. The total burden of asthma to the European Community is at least double

when taking adult and occupational asthma into account. A significant reduction of the quality of life of

asthmatic children is well recognised.

Current asthma therapies are effective in cases of mild asthma, but severe asthma remains very

difficult to treat, and 80% of the cost arises from the 20% of individuals with severe disease 1.

The aim of the GABRIEL project is to discover the environmental and genomic causes of asthma.

The understanding of these factors and their interactions at the molecular level will open new avenues into

the development of preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to combat the asthma epidemic in

Europe and worldwide. This proposal lays out an extended systematic structure of research that will define

the molecular mechanisms of gene-environment interactions and

Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 1 September, 2004
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 1 September, 2004
Allergies, Asthma, Genetics, Respiratory, Atopy
Primary keyword: