The genetics of asthma and the promise of genomics-guided drug target discovery.

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Asthma is an inflammatory airway disease that is estimated to affect 339 million people globally. The symptoms of about 5-10% of patients with asthma are not adequately controlled with current therapy, and little success has been achieved in developing drugs that target the underlying mechanisms of asthma rather than suppressing symptoms. Over the past 3 years, well powered genetic studies of asthma have increased the number of independent asthma-associated genetic loci to 128. In this Series paper, we describe the immense progress in asthma genetics over the past 13 years and link asthma genetic variants to possible drug targets. Further studies are needed to establish the functional significance of gene variants associated with asthma in subgroups of patients and to describe the biological networks within which they function. The genomics-guided discovery of plausible drug targets for asthma could pave the way for the repurposing of existing drugs for asthma and the development of new treatments.

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