What goes wrong in chronic lung disease
Respiratory diseases such as asthma chronic obstructive pulmonary disease lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) have a substantial effect on the community both in Australia and worldwide. Our research focuses on understanding the basic causes of these diseases so that we can work towards better treatment and even a cure.
We use human lung cells and tissues from volunteers with asthma and patients undergoing lung resection to understand their abnormal behaviour in chronic lung disease. We were the first to report that there are basic defects in the airway smooth muscle cell in asthma which lead to exaggerated proliferation and a build up of muscle in the airways which causes the heightened narrowing that occurs in response to exercise, cold air, allergens and occupational agents. This increase in muscle along with thickening of the airway wall due to increased deposition of fibrotic tissue results in airway remodelling - structural changes which are not amenable to reversal or prevention with current asthma therapy. Understanding the pathways leading to these changes will enable us to target them specifically to treat airway remodelling. LAM is fatal disease of young women for which there is no treatment or cure. Smooth muscle-like cells invade the lung and cause cystic destruction and lung collapse. In both asthma and LAM we have discovered that particular proteins which could prevent some of these pathological events are missing. Finding out why these are missing could constitute major breakthroughs in these two diseases.
Embarking on a PhD with our team is a great journey of discovery in an environment which is totally research focused.
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The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 998