Arizona Asthma Research Focuses On Dust In Amish Community

By Tony Paniagua
Published: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 8:36am
Updated: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 8:39am
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(Photo by Anita Ritenour - CC BY 2.0)
Buggy in a northern Indiana Amish community.

Researchers in Tucson are taking part in the first study of its kind -- they are studying dust in Amish communities that could hold the key to preventing asthma.

Asthma affects millions of people in the United States, but the rates are much lower among the Amish. The Amish are a religious order that often live on farms and shun modern conveniences such as cars and electric appliances.

Scientists are taking dust samples from Amish homes and stables in Indiana to try to find a substance that helps prevent asthma and allergies.

“This is a very important issue because asthma and allergies have become a significant health burden, almost an epidemic,” said physician Fernando Martinez, director of the Bio 5 Institute and the Arizona Respiratory Center at the University of Arizona.

Martinez and other UA scientists are part of the research team.

“We hope that by the end of the year we will have identified the substance or substances that are responsible for this protection and then start developing products that can be used by humans in the form of vaccines,” Martinez said.

Bio 5 Institute is collaborating with Johnson and Johnson consumer and personal products and Janssen Biotech Incorporated on the project.