Nasal polyps are soft outgrowths the shapes of grapes and they can grow in the nasal passages and sinuses. They tend to be chronic, producing very uncomfortable symptoms. They are not at all cancerous but they can result from allergies and get big enough to block nasal passages significantly.
Polyps and Infections
Nasal polyps can get big, blocking the sinuses and leading to breathing problems. They also disrupt the ability of the sinuses to fight off bacteria so it will tend to take hold, causing infections. The polyps themselves can also become infected, causing more problems to occur.
When this happens, there is a greater sensitivity to allergens due to the presence of the bacteria and rhinitis sets in. This is a further, aggressive inflammation of the nasal passages and sinuses. It leads to severe discomfort.
Fixing the Problem
Ridding a patient of nasal polyps means cutting them out surgically. This is usually just a temporary fix, so the prognosis is not very good with people who have severe nasal polyps. At the same time, these removed polyps provide researchers with precious samples.
These tissue samples are being used to study intense allergic inflammation and disease since nasal polyps are so aggressive. Investigators hailing from Brigham and Women’s Hospital as well as the Broad Institute, and MIT, are using advanced sequencing technology to examine nasal polyps more closely.
The Links Being Discovered
This sampling and testing is allowing researchers to not only understand the condition of nasal polyps better but also other disorders like asthma, allergic eczema, and allergic rhinitis.
The most frustrating aspect about chronic allergic conditions is that there is no cure for any of them. Surgery can work in cases of nasal polyps but the effect is almost always just temporary. That leaves much more time with the disease issue at hand.
The goal is to understand the inflammatory process more completely so that researchers can find a way to mitigate the conditions caused by it. You see, these conditions are all linked in a way and it starts with the inflammation. That is what has been found.
Cell Samples to Identify Changes
In the study, samples of cells were yielded from 12 different patients with chronic nasal polyps and other sinus conditions. The end yield was 18,036 cells. These cells were then compared to the nasal cells of healthy people.
They used parallel, single cell RNA sequencing, allowing the investigating teams to determine the genes of each cell. The polyp and sinus problem samples were completely altered genetically, much to researchers’ surprise.
It is as though each of the stem cells in the sinuses were completely altered genetically to be different cells than in healthy tissue. This pointed to a new map of tissue known now as type 2 inflammation.
This inflammation indicates immune cells that have become aberrant and dangerous, releasing all sorts of inflammation upon the cells of the body. This is thought to be linked to various types of allergic diseases and allows scientists to better understand new potential mechanisms for treatment.