Asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are a growing major health burden, which, despite improvements in disease management, still require new effective treatments. As our understanding of the cellular and molecular processes which govern respiratory diseases improves, the range of potential therapeutic targets increase. PI 3-kinases (phosphoinositide 3-kinases) are a family of closely related enzymes, which play pivotal roles in a diverse array of cellular mechanisms. In the present paper, we review the evidence for PI 3-kinase involvement in various cellular processes underlying asthma and COPD generated through inhibitor studies and gene-targeting approaches, and discuss the prospects for PI 3-kinase inhibition as a future therapeutic strategy for the treatment of respiratory disease.

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