For quite some time it has been known that calcium plays a major role in muscle contraction. A number of calcium-altering medicines are used to help heart problems and hypertension by relaxing the smooth muscle found in the heart and arteries. Now there may be an application to asthma.
Smooth muscle is also found in our bronchial tubes; constriction of this muscle that occurs through proteins called calcium-sensing receptors causes asthma.
A recent British study examined the use of a class of drugs used to treat osteoporosis called calcilytics. These drugs were administered to asthmatic mice with dramatic results: the drugs blocked the action of calcium-sensing receptors and thus, prevented the smooth muscle constriction.
The scientists are now starting human studies. This research is very compelling as it offers a mechanism to control asthma that has never before been available.