Genetic study reveals why asthma inhalers fail minority children

A very large NHLBI-funded whole-genome sequencing study of drug response in minority children revealed new clues about why the front-line asthma drug albuterol does not work as well for African-American and Puerto Rican children as it does for European American or Mexican children. The findings were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The researchers discovered new genetic variants associated with reduced albuterol response, implicating genes involved in lung capacity, immune response, and response to blockers and related medications in albuterol’s weakened effect on these patients.

These results reveal new risk markers in the genome that could be used to predict which children are likely to respond poorly to albuterol and other current first-line anti-asthma drugs, and to guide the development of new therapies that will be more effective and reduce the outsize burden of mortality in minority populations.