Research activities of the Centre continue to have a major emphasis on patient and care-giver education and knowledge translation (see below), but in concert with the Clinic and the Pulmonary Research Group, the diversity of research activities closely aligned with the Centre has increased.

During 2010 we received a substantial grant from the National Sanitarium Association to study biomarkers that can predict asthma exacerbations. This has been a collaborative project among many members of the Division of Pulmonary Medicine and the Pulmonary Research Group working with members of the Asthma Center. The first study we have planned is a detailed analysis of biomarker expression during a steroid withdrawal study designed to induce mild asthma exacerbations. Mild to moderate asthmatics will be recruited while stable. After initial evaluation they will have the dose of their inhaled steroids progressively decreased until they exacerbate. At that time they will undergo a second evaluation. Evaluation at both time points will include physiological measurements, bronchoscopy with BAL, bronchial brushings, and mucosal biopsies and collection of blood and urine. Multiple analyses with transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics will be performed to identify biomarkers that will predict exacerbations or are associated with more severe exacerbations.

Another new initiative over 2010 has been the Allergic Rhinitis Clinical Research Collaborative that is a cross Canada initiative funded by AllerGen NCE. This collaborative will perform studies on allergic rhinitis using a common protocol of nasal allergen challenge followed by sampling of nasal fluid and nasal epithelial cells. The aim is to develop a protocol that can be used for early phase 2 trials for new medications that will be useful for treatment of allergic rhinitis. In this area we are collaborating closely with Dr. Erin Wright an ENT surgeon, Department of Surgery, University of Alberta.

We also received a grant from ASTHMA-C to study the effects of asthma self-management education on airway inflammation and understand whether self-management education has an effect on the inflammation, in addition to allowing patients to take active part in their disease management. We will recruit patients with asthma and assign them to full self-management educational intervention versus evaluation by a physician and teaching of inhaler use only. We will then follow-up these patients with a number of assays to evaluate airway inflammation, including exhaled NO and induced sputum, to understand the anti-inflammatory effects of well designed, asthma self-management education.

Dr. Harissios Vliagoftis, MD, Research Director