Monday, 19 December 2016

Monash research brings hope to asthma, COPD and other patients with chronic inflammatory diseases

Professor Phil Bardin
Recently announced National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding will enable Monash Health Translation Precinct researchers and clinicians to investigate new therapies for patients with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic inflammatory lung diseases.

Asthma and COPD are the most prevalent diseases of the respiratory system, and impose a significant burden on the Australian health care system. 

In addition to being a chronic burden, these diseases predispose affected individuals to frequent viral and bacterial infections, often requiring emergency department treatment.

The NHMRC-funded collaborative research project at Monash University, Monash Health and the Hudson Institute of Medical Research will investigate potential therapies to reduce the impact of virus infections in patients with COPD and asthma.

“Virus infections trigger asthma attacks, leading to lung deterioration and a gradual decline in lung function,” said lead researcher and Director, Monash Lung and Sleep, Professor Phil Bardin.

“People with asthma have increased levels of a molecule called transforming growth factor-beta (TGFB), and our team has previously shown that TGFB increases virus infection by suppressing the innate immune response, the body’s first line of defence.”

Professor Bardin’s project will determine the therapeutic potential of TGFB inhibitors that are already approved for use in humans as well as other novel compounds, to reduce the impact of virus infections in patients with COPD and asthma.

“Modulating TGFB levels may have a substantial impact in preventing organ dysfunction, improving quality of life and reducing the burden on the Australian health care system,” said Professor Bardin.

“Importantly, these findings are translatable to other chronic inflammatory conditions in which TGFB is over-expressed, including chronic lung diseases, as well as diseases involving the joints, liver, pancreas and kidneys.”

Professor Bardin said this research has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life of these patients, while reducing the burden of chronic diseases on the Australian Health Care system.”

Professor Bardin’s collaborators include Drs Belinda Thomas and Michael Gantier from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Monash University’s Professor Kate Loveland and Professor Jack Elias from Brown University, New York.

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