$2.9 million Australian study AMAZES asthma researchers

October 15, 2008

Researchers in the Hunter region are poised to begin the biggest asthma study of its type in the world.

The Asthma and Macrolides: Azithromycin Efficacy and Safety (AMAZES) study will explore a new way of treating inflammations in asthma patients by studying the role of macrolide antibiotics in persistent asthma.

Professor Peter Gibson, a Conjoint Professor at the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health respiratory specialist, has today secured $2.9 million over five years from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for the study.

"Current asthma medication is focused on treating a particular cell, called an eosinophil," Professor Gibson said.

"Increased levels of eosinophils are thought to be responsible for inflammation of the airways. However, almost half of people with asthma symptoms have normal levels of eosinophils and respond poorly to current asthma therapies.

"These people suffer from non-eosinophilic asthma, caused by the dysfunction of a primitive arm of the immune system called the innate immune system.

"We have previously used macrolide antiobiotics to successfully treat very severe non-eosinophilic patients, significantly reducing their asthmatic inflammation and improving their quality of life."

The AMAZES study will determine how effective macrolides are in general for people with asthma, establish the best way to use them, and ensure they are safe to use.

More than 2.2 million Australians suffer from asthma, which is a national research priority area.

The AMAZES study will begin next year at five centres - Newcastle, Perth, Adelaide And two in Brisbane.

Professor Peter Gibson is a Conjoint Professor at the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health respiratory specialist. He is Co-Director of the University's Priority Research Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases and conducts research in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) Viruses, Infections/Immunity, Vaccines and Asthma (VIVA) Research Program.
The Hunter Medical Research Institute is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

Research Australia

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