Nav: Home

BUH awards BRI $8 million to lead new asthma and allergic diseases cooperative research center

August 23, 2016

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason a five-year, $8 million grant to lead a cooperative study on the immune system's responses to allergens in the lungs. Over the next five years, investigators at BRI, UW Medicine, and Seattle Children's Research Institute will collaborate to gain insights into the lung epithelium -- the interface between the inside of the lung and the outside environment -- to inform the development of new treatments and therapies for allergies and asthma. One in four people in the United States are allergic, asthmatic, or both.

"Because we're using cells from both children and adults, as well as a culture system that closely mimics the actual structure of the lung, our findings will positively impact the lives of people living with allergies and asthma," said Director of BRI's Immunology Research Program Dr. Steven Ziegler. "This study wouldn't be possible without collaboration; we're grateful for the collegiality of the immunology community in Seattle, through which we're able to fight immune system diseases together."

Dr. Ziegler will lead the project along with eight other principal investigators from BRI, UW Medicine and SCRI. UW Medicine will supply samples from adults, and SCRI will provide samples from children, with researchers from both institutions as co-principal investigators alongside researchers from BRI.

"A major advantage of this grant," said Dr. Marion Pepper, University of Washington assistant professor of immunology and UW Medicine researcher, "is that it draws upon the distinct skill sets of scientists from three major Seattle biomedical research institutions. Because of this, the collaboration has the potential to provide a basic understanding of how viruses and allergens can act in tandem to promote the asthmatic response."

The research will focus on testing whether the airway epithelium cells, the layer of cells forming the lung epithelium, is the major regulator of responses to outside attack from allergens and respiratory viruses. Based on previous studies, the cooperative predicts that airway epithelium cells from asthmatics will differ in how this regulation controls infections and allergic responses. Each project will test a different aspect of this response, with the epithelium providing the common link between them.

"We believe that improved understanding of the role of the airway epithelium in asthma will lead to novel treatments," said Dr. Jason Debley, a pediatric pulmonary specialist and SCRI principal investigator for the grant. "We will contribute a unique resource of airway epithelial cells from children with and without asthma that are then grown in an innovative model, which closely approximates the structure of these cells in the lung. Together with our collaborators at BRI and UW Medicine, we will facilitate breakthroughs in our understanding how viruses and allergens worsen asthma."

This latest grant comes on the heels of a $2.9 million grant that was awarded to BRI last month to expand studies of Interleukin 33, a protein that helps drive the immune response to allergic reactions. BRI researchers discovered this critical pathway in peanut allergy may also extend to other food allergies. Currently there are few available treatments to either prevent or cure food allergies, and available medications only treat symptoms following the onset of the allergic response. Understanding the triggers of a food allergy reaction could help researchers make great strides in identifying new targets for the development of treatment therapies.

BRI and Virginia Mason Medical Center were also recently selected to join the Food Allergy Research & Education Clinical Network, an initiative that aims to accelerate the development of drugs as well as improve the quality of care for patients with food allergies. BRI is one of 28 leading research and care sites nationwide that provides high-quality clinical and sub-specialty food allergy expertise and services, and that is focused on applying new evidence-based knowledge to this important field. These centers also meet high standards for clinical care, teaching and clinical research. Last year, BRI Assistant Member Dr. Erik Wambre was also recognized with a Food Allergy Research & Education investigator award to support research in food allergy, specifically peanut allergy.

"These grant awards speak to the tremendous work taking place at BRI and other research institutions in the region. Together, we are a leading source of innovation and progress in the fight for human health," said BRI President and Translational Research Program Director Dr. Jane Buckner. "Only through these collaborations among investigators will we be able to turn the tide against these lifelong diseases so that we can move beyond treating and containing them, and instead focus on preventing them from ever taking hold."
-end-
About Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason

Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason is committed to winning the fight against autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis, and immune system diseases such as allergies and asthma. BRI is an internationally recognized medical research institute that accelerates discovery by tackling questions from every angle, translating immunology breakthroughs into clinical therapies and healthier patients. We're all in this fight together, and BRI is dedicated to collaboration both within our own walls and through the Immune Tolerance Network, Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet and other major cooperative research programs we lead. Visit BenaroyaResearch.org or follow Benaroya Research Institute on Facebook or Twitter to learn more.

Benaroya Research Institute

Related Asthma Articles:

Physics vs. asthma
A research team from the MIPT Center for Molecular Mechanisms of Aging and Age-Related Diseases has collaborated with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany to determine the spatial structure of the CysLT1 receptor.
New knowledge on the development of asthma
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have studied which genes are expressed in overactive immune cells in mice with asthma-like inflammation of the airways.
Eating fish may help prevent asthma
A scientist from James Cook University in Australia says an innovative study has revealed new evidence that eating fish can help prevent asthma.
Academic performance of urban children with asthma worse than peers without asthma
A new study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows urban children with poorly controlled asthma, particularly those who are ethnic minorities, also suffer academically.
Asthma Controller Step Down Yardstick -- treatment guidance for when asthma improves
The focus for asthma treatment is often stepping up treatment, but clinicians need to know how to step down therapy when symptoms improve.
Asthma management tools improve asthma control and reduce hospital visits
A set of comprehensive asthma management tools helps decrease asthma-related visits to the emergency department, urgent care or hospital and improves patients' asthma control.
Asthma linked to infertility but not among women taking regular asthma preventers
Women with asthma who only use short-acting asthma relievers take longer to become pregnant than other women, according to research published in the European Respiratory Journal.
What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma?
A team of experts from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston examined the current information available from many different sources on diagnosing and managing mild to moderate asthma in adults and summarized them.
Insomnia prevalent in patients with asthma
A team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh has found that insomnia is highly prevalent in adults with asthma and is also associated with worse asthma control, depression and anxiety symptoms and other quality of life and health issues.
Test used to diagnose asthma may not be accurate
A new study urges caution in the use of the mannitol challenge test for asthma in non-clinical settings.
More Asthma News and Asthma Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.