Two lung imaging studies from Western University, including one performed in non-identical twin patients with life-long asthma, have shown that airway defects in the lungs of asthmatic patients are like thumbprints - they have a unique pattern and maintain that pattern over time.
These studies deepen our understanding of asthma and also open up opportunities for personalized therapies that can target specific areas of the lungs. In a study published recently in the journal Radiology, researchers used a specialized MRI technique developed at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, to follow 11 patients with mild to moderate asthma over a six year period and were able to visualize where air goes in the lungs and more importantly, where it does not.
Researchers used a specialized MRI techniques to visualize the lungs of twins with asthma. While the twins are non-identical, the researchers found that they actually had identical ventilation defects in the same upper left lung segment, which stayed the same over the duration of the seven year study.
Credit: Schulich Medicine & Dentistry
These pockets of the lungs where there is no fresh air are called ventilation defects, and researchers and clinicians have long thought that these defects are random, wide-spread and change their location in the lungs depending on a number of factors in patients with asthma.
These studies refute that long-standing belief.
"Most of the patients in our study had essentially the same ventilation defects at the first visit and six years later both in terms of size and spatial location in the lungs," said Rachel Eddy, PhD
Candidate at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and lead author on the studies. "This tells us that there are focal regions inside the lungs that are abnormal, and these stay that way over time."
In a case study published today in the journal Chest the researchers used the same technique in a set of twins with asthma. While the twins are non-identical, the researchers found that they actually had identical ventilation defects in the same upper left lung segment, which stayed the same over the duration of the seven year study.
"This result found in twins helps us further understand that asthma is not random, and asthma abnormalities persist over long periods of time in the same lung regions. The airway abnormalities likely have a heritable and environmental component," said Grace Parraga, PhD, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair, Professor at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and Scientist at Robarts Research Institute.
This finding emphasizes the importance of personalized and image-guided therapy for asthmatic patients. "We see now that patients have different thumbprints of disease, and this points to the need for therapy that is patient-specific," said Dr. Cory Yamashita, Associate Professor of Respirology at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.
The researchers also looked at how the MRI ventilation defects predict those patients that transition from asthma to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which does not respond to treatments that help open up closed airways. This novel finding supports previous health care database results and is critical because COPD patients experience constant and persistent shortness of breath and require more hospital-based care and much worse outcomes.
"COPD patients have difficult-to-treat disease - experiencing life-altering acute worsening more frequently and requiring more frequent hospitalizations," said Parraga. "If we can predict those that transition from asthma to COPD, perhaps we can find new ways to prevent this from happening in the first place. This would save countless health care dollars, decrease hospitalizations, and improve quality of life and disease control in patients."
Both studies were funded through grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
MEDIA CONTACT: Crystal Mackay, Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, t. 519.661.2111 ext. 80387, c. 519.933.5944, email@example.com @CrystalMackay
Western University delivers an academic experience second to none. Since 1878, The Western Experience has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world application. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community.
ABOUT THE SCHULICH SCHOOL OF MEDICINE & DENTISTRY
The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University is one of Canada's preeminent medical and dental schools. Established in 1881, it was one of the founding schools of Western University and is known for being the birthplace of family medicine in Canada. For more than 130 years, the School has demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence and a passion for scientific discovery.
Crystal Mackay | EurekAlert!
Novel communication between intestinal microbes and developing immune cells in the thymus
24.01.2020 | Massachusetts General Hospital
Preventing metastasis by stopping cancer cells from making fat
23.01.2020 | Université catholique de Louvain
Researchers from Dresden and Osaka present the first fully integrated flexible electronics made of magnetic sensors and organic circuits which opens the path towards the development of electronic skin.
Human skin is a fascinating and multifunctional organ with unique properties originating from its flexible and compliant nature. It allows for interfacing with...
Researchers of the Carl Gustav Carus University Hospital Dresden at the National Center for Tumor Diseases Dresden (NCT/UCC), together with an international...
A Duke University research team has identified a new function of a gene called huntingtin, a mutation of which underlies the progressive neurodegenerative...
For years, a new synthesis method has been developed at TU Wien (Vienna) to unlock the secrets of "strange metals". Now a breakthrough has been achieved. The results have been published in "Science".
Superconductors allow electrical current to flow without any resistance - but only below a certain critical temperature. Many materials have to be cooled down...
KIT researchers develop novel composites of DNA, silica particles, and carbon nanotubes -- Properties can be tailored to various applications
Using DNA, smallest silica particles, and carbon nanotubes, researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) developed novel programmable materials....
16.01.2020 | Event News
15.01.2020 | Event News
07.01.2020 | Event News
27.01.2020 | Life Sciences
27.01.2020 | Life Sciences
27.01.2020 | Life Sciences