One of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies has awarded The University of Queensland a $160,000 research grant to help identify potential new pathways that contribute to the development of asthma, a disease that affects more than two million Australians.
UQ School of Biomedical Sciences (SBMS) scientist Associate Professor Simon Phipps said that while most people commonly associated allergies with asthma, 70 to 80 percent of acute episodes were associated with a respiratory viral infection.
“Asthma usually starts in early childhood and typically involves a genetic predisposition,” Associate Professor Phipps said.
“Several studies have also found that children who have frequent viral bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways, within the first 12 months of life, frequently have more persistent and severe asthma in later life.”
Associate Professor Phipps’s research group at UQ has developed a sophisticated laboratory asthma model that accurately demonstrates the link between a genetic deficiency and the development of severe viral bronchiolitis in early life and virus-associated asthma exacerbations in later life.
“Our research at UQ is focused on both allergen-induced asthma and viral-induced asthma,” Associate Professor Phipps said.
“We’ve found that when the two come together, they act synergistically such that the risk of developing asthma increases ten fold, similar to what has been shown clinically.”