Asthma is a common condition that causes an individual’s airways to swell and narrow, resulting in breathing difficulties, coughing and breathlessness. During childhood, the disease is more prevalent and severe in boys. Following puberty, however, asthma becomes more common and severe in women.
Women have a heightened risk of developing this condition because female sex hormones can worsen symptoms of asthma, much like dust, pollen and air pollution does. The hormones may even trigger an asthma attack. It is common knowledge that women who have asthma are at risk of possibly fatal asthma attacks every month and experience worse symptoms during their periods.
Women between the ages of 20 and 50 who have asthma are also three times more likely to be admitted to hospital because of attacks, in comparison to male counterparts of the same age. Prior research has shown that women are also more likely die as a result of an asthma attack. This is backed by data showing that in the last five years, more than 5,100 women have died from an asthma attack, with less than 2,300 men dying of the disease during the same period.
While both men and women have the same asthma triggers, some triggers may affect women more often. For instance, girls and women are more sensitive to cigarette smoke. Additionally, food allergies are more prevalent in women, and female sex hormones may worsen them, which may in turn trigger an asthma attack.
Despite all these differences, very few studies have explored why the disease affects women more than men. This is mainly because less than 5% of public investment in research is directed to lung diseases. Inadequate funding makes it harder for researchers to conduct studies that would help diagnose, treat and manage these diseases more effectively while also making it hard for individuals suffering from these illnesses to receive the support and care they need.
To change this, Asthma + Lung UK have been advancing its research program while calling for more investments that would further research into better understanding what role sex hormones, particularly female ones, play in asthma.
Studies that addressed these sex-based inequalities would also help determine which existing therapies would be most effective for women. This is in addition to paving the way for the development of new targeted interventions for this condition. This will help save millions of lives, not only in the United Kingdom but also around the globe.
With entities such as BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) undertaking novel drug-development programs targeting different indications, including asthma, women could soon have access to more efficacious remedies for this autoimmune condition that affects their quality of life.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/BVXV
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