HOUSTON Research on an aerosol that jump-starts a rapid immune response to stifle viral respiratory infections before they can provoke asthma attacks has earned major funding from the National Institutes of Health.
The NIH named Scott Evans, M.D., associate professor of Pulmonary Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, a New Innovator award winner, part of the institute's High Risk High Reward program to address major challenges in biomedical research.
"Asthma affects 8 percent of Americans 26 million adults and children and its incidence continues to grow for reasons we don't fully understand," Evans said. "However, research shows that 80 percent of all asthma attacks are caused by respiratory viral infections which cause damaging allergic inflammation in the lungs."
"Our lab has found that if we induce the right kind of inflammation, we can protect lungs against infections and prevent harmful inflammation," Evans said.
"By treating with our novel therapeutic to trigger lung defenses at the first sign of infection, such as a runny nose or sneezes, we can prevent the infection from progressing to the lungs," Evans said. "We also have reason to believe that we might be able to reprogram lung cells to prevent long-term, irreversible asthmatic progression."
The New Innovator grant, $2.4 million spread over five years, will fund preclinical research in lung cells and mouse models that is expected to translate to clinical trials to prevent asthma attacks.
Aerosol triggers innate immunity to squelch infections
Evans and colleagues previously showed that the inhaled aerosol stimulates an innate immune response in the lungs of mice, protecting them against otherwise lethal pneumonias caused by bacterial, viral or fungal pathogens, including treatment-resistant bacteria, and potential bioterror agents such as anthrax.
"We found we could protect against anything we've eve
|Contact: Scott Merville|
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center