Respiratory conditions that restrict breathing such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are common killers worldwide. But no effective treatments exist to address the major cause of death in these conditions - excess mucus production. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have described the molecular pathway responsible for excess mucus in airway cells and have used that information to design a series of new drugs that inhibit that pathway.
Specifically, Michael Holtzman, M.D., and his colleagues designed drugs (yellow) that bind with the MAPK13 enzyme (grey) to limit excess mucus production in airway cells. According to Holtzman, the drugs could help patients with life-threatening respiratory conditions including COPD and asthma.