8. November 2021
Asthma in children: biomarker discovered

Immune cells in the blood of children with allergic asthma are composed differently to those in healthy children. Individual characteristics of the immune cells can be measured in the blood. Presumably, this will make it possible to assess allergic asthma in children more accurately in the future.

In children with allergic asthma, certain immune cell types are found less frequently than in healthy children, namely cells that carry a special molecule (a biomarker) on their surface: the protein CD8. This was discovered by a team led by Marburg biologist Magdalena Huber.


To achieve this, Huber and her colleagues used a new method, mass cytometry. This method can detect many types of immune cells in even the smallest blood samples. “Although the origins of allergic asthma often lie in childhood, until now it was not understood in detail how the cells of the immune system are involved,” says Magdalena Huber.


Although the research is still in its infancy, it could improve the diagnosis of children with allergic asthma in the future. “So far, many children with asthma are treated similarly in everyday clinical practice,” says Bianca Schaub, a paediatrician at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich: “The new method of mass cytometry makes it possible to better immunologically characterise different groups of children with asthma”.


If we know more precisely how the immune cells are composed, we could offer children individually tailored treatment in the future.




Raifer H et al. Mass cytometry-based identification of a unique T-cell signature in childhood allergic asthma, Allergy 2021


Scholten J. Asthma bei Kindern zeigt sich im Blut (Asthma in children is reflected in the blood). Philipps University Marburg press release from 13/10/2021 (German)