Purpose of review: Asthma is a major public health problem that afflicts nearly one in 20 people worldwide. Despite available treatments, asthma symptoms remain poorly controlled in a significant minority of asthma patients, especially those with severe disease. Accordingly, much ongoing effort has been directed at developing new therapeutic strategies; these efforts are described in detail below.
Recent findings: Although mucus hypersecretion is an important component of asthma pathobiology, the primary mechanism of morbidity and mortality in asthma is excessive narrowing of the airway. The key end- effector of excessive airway narrowing is airway smooth muscle (ASM) contraction; overcoming ASM contraction is therefore a prominent therapeutic strategy. Here, we review exciting new advances aimed at ASM relaxation.
Summary: Exciting advances in ASM biology have identified new therapeutic targets for the prevention or reversal of bronchoconstriction in asthma.