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May242006

First Non-Drug Asthma Treatment Tested

WASHINGTON – In a radical experiment, doctors are snaking wires inside the lungs of asthma patients to essentially burn off some of the tissue that blocks their ability to breathe.

Called bronchial thermoplasty, the procedure is the first attempt at a non-drug treatment for asthma.

It’s not without risk. Irritating those super-sensitive airways can trigger wheezing, and no one knows the long-term effects. Nor does it promise a cure.

But the hope is that physically altering spasm-prone airways might one day help thousands of patients with hard-to-control asthma breathe easier.

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