Inquiries into the relationships between viral respiratory tract illnesses and the inception and exacerbation of asthma are being facilitated by recent advances in research approaches and technology. In this article we identify important knowledge gaps and future research questions, and we discuss how new investigational tools, including improved respiratory tract virus detection techniques, will permit current and future researchers to define these relationships and the host, virus, developmental, and environmental mechanisms that regulate them. A better understanding of these processes should facilitate the development of improved strategies for the prevention and treatment of virus-induced wheezing illnesses and asthma exacerbations and, possibly, the ultimate goal of discovering effective approaches for the primary prevention of asthma.
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