Asthma and chronic lung disease study to reduce impact of virus infection in patients

Asthma and chronic lung disease study to reduce impact of virus infection in patients

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) describes long-term lung conditions that become worse over time, and cause shortness of breath by reducing the normal flow of air through the airways.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) describes long-term lung conditions that become worse over time, and cause shortness of breath by reducing the normal flow of air through the airways.

Reducing the impact of virus infections in patients with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic inflammatory lung diseases is the focus of a collaborative research project involving Monash University.

The National Health and Medical Research Council funded project involving researchers from the Monash Health Translation Precinct and Hudson Institute of Medical Research will investigate potential therapies aimed at reducing the impact of virus infections in patients with COPD and asthma.

Asthma and COPD conditions, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma, 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.

Lead researcher and Director of Monash Lung and Sleep department, Professor Phil Bardin, said virus infections were responsible for triggering asthma attacks in people with the condition, leading to lung deterioration and a gradual decline in lung function in patients.

“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 had 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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