Category Archives: Faculty

View recent posts and news from our faculty members. For our faculty profiles, read more here: https://www.meakinsmcgill.com/faculty-members/ 

‘Contain COVID-19’ – in its earliest phases

Dr. Nicole Ezer, Dr. James Martin, Dr. Andrea Benedetti and Dr. Ben Smith, all members of the RI-MUHC’s RESP Program, have recently announced their new COVID-19 study. This study is designed to test the efficacy of ciclesonide, a steroid currently on the market, to inhibit the spread of the COVID virus in its early stages. This new trial builds on the knowledge gained from a recent study using dexamethasone on advanced cases of COVID-19.

This new study, called Contain COVID-19, which will soon be in the recruiting stage, is aimed at decreasing the severity of shortness of breath among patients who have not yet been hospitalized. Dr. Ezer states in her recent interview with Mathieu Perreault of La Presse:

« Nous espérons que ça va diminuer la gêne respiratoire et éviter l’hospitalisation en stoppant la réplication virale et en diminuant la progression de l’inflammation dans les voies respiratoires inférieures. »

Eligible participants of the study will receive the medication (or placebo) in inhaler and nasal spray form at their residence, to be used for a period of 14 days. Ciclesonide was approved by Health Canada in 2008, and side effects are fairly uncommon, mild and cease when the medication is stopped.

Dr. Ezer’s interview with Mathieu Perreault of La Presse can be read here.

Detailed information on the clinical trial as well as registration information, can be found here.

ATS Assemblies June 23, 2020 1:00 pm EDT

Clinical Aspects of COVID-19 Recovery – Register Now!

The ATS Assemblies Respiratory Structure and Function (RSF) and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) are pleased to announce a webinar on “Clinical Aspects of COVID-19 Recovery” on Tuesday, June 23 at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

Speakers/topics will include:

Effect of muscle atrophy in COVD-19 recovery – Neil Greening, MBBS, BMedSci(hons), MRCP(UK), PhD (University of Leicester)
Pulmonary considerations in COVID-19 recovery – Potential long-term complications – Chris Ryerson, MD, MAS (University of British Columbia)
Post-COVID-19 Centers of Excellence – What data should be collected during recovery? – Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr., MD (Rutgers University)

Discussion panelists will include:

Heidi Lindroth, PhD, RN (Indiana University School of Medicine)
Marilyn Moy, MD, MSc (Harvard Medical School)
Basil Petrof, MD (McGill University Health Center)
Carolyn Rochester, MD, FCCP (Yale School of Medicine)

The session will be moderated by Johanna Uthoff, PhD (University of Sheffield)

To register for the webinar, click here.

Benjamin Smith, JAMA 2020. Jun 9;323(22):2268-2280. Figure 1. These CT scans of airways (red) and lungs (dark grey) show the spectrum of dysanapsis, with smaller airways in proportion to lung size (left) compared with normal size airways (middle), and larger than normal airways (right).

Dysanapsis and COPD risk

A new study by Dr. Benjamin Smith highlights dysanapsis as a strong risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Dysanapsis is a developmental mismatch between airway and lung size. While smoking has long been known as the best-known risk factor for COPD, it never explained why only a minority of lifelong smokers develop the disease, while non-smokers represent more than 25% of all COPD cases.

The team conducted detailed analysis of lung images and assessed standard COPD risk factors such as tobacco smoking, secondhand smoke, air pollution and occupational exposures. Their results show that dysanapsis appears to be a very strong risk factor for COPD, associated with twice as much of the variation in COPD risk when compared with cigarette smoking and other standard COPD risk factors. When the researchers measured airway tree and lung size using state-of-the-art CT scans of the chest, they discovered that never smokers with COPD had much smaller airways relative to lung size, whereas the heavy smokers who did not have COPD had unusually large airways and thus found themselves at the opposite end of the dysanapsis spectrum. While the root cause for dysanapsis remains unknown, these findings help understand why COPD can occur in people who never smoked and do not have other risk factors.

Read more about the study on RI-MUHC NEWS.

Read the article here:

Association of Dysanapsis With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Among Older Adults. Smith BM, Kirby M, Hoffman EA, Kronmal RA, Aaron SD, Allen NB, Bertoni A, Coxson HO, Cooper C, Couper DJ, Criner G, Dransfield MT, Han MK, Hansel NN, Jacobs DR Jr, Kaufman JD, Lin CL, Manichaikul A, Martinez FJ, Michos ED, Oelsner EC, Paine R 3rd, Watson KE, Benedetti A, Tan WC, Bourbeau J, Woodruff PG, Barr RG; MESA Lung, CanCOLD, and SPIROMICS Investigators. JAMA. 2020 Jun 9;323(22):2268-2280. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.6918. PMID: 32515814

Dr. Benjamin Smith is a member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories and a scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre – RESP program.

β-Glucan Induces Protective Trained Immunity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection: A Key Role for IL-1

Using β-glucan to help fight TB Infection

Congratulations to Dr. Nargis Khan and Dr. Eva Kaufmann, postdoctoral fellows with Dr. Maziar Divangahi for their latest Cell Reports publication. Their work shows that β-glucan induces protective trained immunity in human monocytes infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, as well as in mice infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Their work is paving the way for both prophylactic and therapeutic use of β-glucan in TB.

Some highlights from the article:

  • β-glucan induces protective trained immunity in human monocytes infected with Mtb
  • β-glucan induces protective trained immunity in mice infected with Mtb
  • β-glucan-mediated protection against Mtb is dependent on IL-1 signaling
  • β-glucan increases expansion of hematopoietic progenitors and myelopoiesis via IL-1

Read the entire paper here: https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(20)30587-8

Low rishk to primary students with asthma returning to school

Asthmatic Primary Students at School

With concern expressed by some parents about the planned opening of some schools in Quebec, Dr. Larry Lands speaks about the return to school for elementary school children with asthma, and how the risk of complications is low when asthma symptoms are well managed.

« Premièrement, à peu près 15% des enfants font de l’asthme, et la majorité est bien contrôlée. » « C’est bien important de prendre ses médicaments comme prescrit (…) ce n’est pas le moment de cesser, il faut continuer. »

« Considérant cela, la majorité, 90% des enfants (qui font de l’asthme) peuvent retourner à l’école. » « La science ne démontre pas que le fait d’avoir de l’asthme, comme tel, prédispose à une maladie plus sévère, surtout chez les enfants. Mais il y a certains asthmatiques qui ont une maladie plus grave, qu’on veut protéger pour l’instant.»

Listen here to the May 1st interview with Dr. Lands on TVA Nouvelles, or to read about their discussion.

The RI-MUHC evaluates the first UV-Disinfection Robot in Canada.

RI-MUHC evaluates UV-Disinfection Robot

According to a recent RI-MUHC press release, the first evaluation of a UV-Disinfection Robot in Canada is being carried out at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. The Robot is autonomous and mobile due to the robotics technology used. It could potentially reduce healthcare-associated infections and their consequences, including health complications, deaths and extra costs. Dr. Bruce Mazer, Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of the RI-MUHC (Interim), confirms:

“We ordered this robot as the COVID-19 pandemic was emerging in China and Europe, with the objective to be first to evaluate this technology in Canada. An automated system can potentially improve patient safety, as well as protect hospital personnel. The robot was delivered at the RI-MUHC on Monday April 27, and will be tested in one patient room and one operating room at the RI-MUHC Centre for Innovative Medicine at the Glen site. We will also take this opportunity to assess if it can be used to disinfect stretchers and N-95 masks.”

The robot, manufactured in Denmark, is programmed to emit concentrated UV-C ultraviolet light onto infectious hotspots. The assessment will determine the potential value of the UVD robot technology compared to existing technologies using safety, efficacy, and effectiveness criteria.

FRQS Salary awards to meakins-christie, RECRU, and respiratory research members for 2020

2020-2021 FRQS Salary Awards

Congratulations to the following Meakins-Christie faculty, RECRU faculty, and RESP program members who received funding from the 2020-2021 FRQS Research Scholars and Clinical Research Scholars Salary Award Competition!

  • Carolyn Baglole – Programme de bourses de chercheur-boursier Senior – for her project entitled: Pathogenèse des maladies pulmonires environnementales : de mechanisms aux traitements. (4 year funding)
  • Sushmita Pamidi – Programme de bourses de chercheur-boursier Clinicien – Junior 2

Covid-19 and the Gastrointestinal Tract

Covid-19 in the gastrointestinal tract

Journalist Alexandre Touchette’s speaks with The Meakins’ Dr. Irah King on Radio Canada April 12, 2020. Dr. King shares several of his hypotheses as to why COVID-19 is found in specific areas of the body. Dr. King is looking to understand what leads to the gastrointestinal symptoms experienced by approximately 20% of those affected with the virus. During the interview, he discuses the gut-lung axis and epithelial and intestinal cells, and speaks to new studies that are trying to decipher why some patients exhibit gastrointestinal symptoms with COVID-19.

Listen to the interview here: Radio Canada Interview – Irah King

Larry Lands and Laurent Pharmaceuticles to begin a clinical trial on COVID-19 treatment with LAU-7b, a pro-resolving drug with potential antiviral properties against coronavirus

Laurent Pharmaceuticals to begin clinical trial on COVID-19 treatment

Click here to read how Laurent Pharmaceuticals, a McGill spinoff will run a Phase 2 clinical study with LAU-7b, a pro-resolving drug with potential antiviral properties against coronavirus.

Larry Lands is the Chief Medical Advisor for Laurent Pharmaceuticals. Laurent Pharmaceuticals Inc. is planning to test its lead drug LAU-7b in patients with COVID-19 disease. LAU-7b was recently identified as a potential anti-viral therapeutic option for COVID-19 during a drug-library screening effort.