Category Archives: Research Themes

Pulmonary Research Themes

According to the WHO, respiratory disorders are leading causes of death world-wide (second only to heart attack & stroke). These include diseases such as obstructive lung diseases and pulmonary infections. As a result, our research is focused around four main pulmonary research themes. These include: chronic airways disease, lung injury and infection, neuromuscular dysfunction in respiratory diseases, and sleep-disordered breathing.

Above all, a multidisciplinary approach is used to study the basic mechanisms of a number of diseases. These include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary infections, cystic fibrosis, sleep apnea, respiratory muscle disorders, pulmonary fibrosis, lung injury, and rare respiratory diseases. Research at the Meakins also involves the study of human physiology and tissues in parallel with relevant animal and cell culture models. Furthermore, research is facilitated by the availability of a variety of core facilities for both clinical and fundamental studies.

Learn more about our research themes here.

Below you will see posts and news items related to our research themes.

A colorimetric nanosurface fluidic platform for rapid phenotypic antibiotic susceptibility testing. Dao Nguyen received MI4 seed funding

Rapid phenotypic antibiotic susceptibility testing

Dr. Dao Nguyen and Dr. Sara Mahshid receive MI4 Seed Funding to develop an ultrasensitive colorimetric fluidic assay for rapid phenotypic antibiotic susceptibility testing. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are responsible for 700,000 deaths annually, a figure that is projected to rise to 10 million deaths per year by 2050 if no action is taken to halt this global threat. The overuse of antibiotics and the prescription of antibiotics to which bacteria are not susceptible, contribute to the rise of antibiotic resistance. This proposal will develop an ultrasensitive colorimetric fluidic assay for rapid phenotypic antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST). The project is anticipated to reduce the turnaround time of the AST to less than 1 hour compared to 3-4 days using conventional AST methods.

Read more about the project:

MI4 Seed Fund Grants – Round 3: A colorimetric nanosurface fluidic platform for rapid phenotypic antibiotic susceptibility testing (Dr. Dao Nguyen and Dr. Sara Mahshid)

March 24 is World TB Day, 2021 Over the next 10 years, Dr. Dick Menzies and the McGill International TB Centre will receive $17.2 million from the CIHR-III for TB Research.

World TB Day 2021

World TB Day 2021 was March 24. Dick Menzies is one of the researchers highlighted by the CIHR’s Institute of Infection and Immunity (CIHR-III), for his work in the field of tuberculosis (TB).

Over the past years the CIHR has provided substantial funding to Dr. Menzies and his research team at the TB Centre. Putting the funds to good use, Dr. Menzies has defined a treatment protocol for TB, which is now in use across North America. Now it is time to take that research further.

In response to a joint application made by CAB-V (Canada, Australia, Benin and Vietnam), an international network led by Dr. Menzies, the CIHR-III has awarded the McGill International TB Centre a further $17.2 million over the next ten years to continue its research and clinical trials on the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of TB. Further studies are being planned for the near future at sites and with co-investigators across Canada and around the world.

About Dr. Menzies:

Dr. Menzies is the Director of the McGill International TB Centre, Canada Research Chair in TB Research, member of the RI-MUHC RESP Program and Associate Member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories.

Read more about Dr. Menzies and TB Research here:

It is time to improve treatment options for rare lung diseases such as progressive fibrosing interstitial lung disease.

Improving Outcomes for ILD Patients

As a specialist in Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) at the Meakins-Christie Laboratories, Ilan Azuelos, MD is an ardent promoter of improving outcomes for ILD patients. Treatment options for people with rare lung diseases, such as progressive fibrosing interstitial pulmonary fibrosis, may portend a life expectancy of between five and six and a half years after onset of symptoms. Dr. Azuelos knows that with research and education of the general public, this life expectancy can be improved.

“Ainsi, les personnes affligées de cette maladie seraient en mesure de passer plus de temps avec leur famille et de profiter au maximum de la vie.”

Ilan Azuelos, MD, MSc

Fortunately, programs have been initiated to address this area of medicine. MEDTEQ+, a pan-Canadian consortium for medical innovation, is bringing together industry leaders such as Boehringer Ingelheim Canada in partnership against PF-ILD. They aim to identify potential solutions to address the gaps in care for patients with IPD-PF, with the goal of accelerating access to treatments that delay the deterioration of lung function.

With the general public more aware of the symptoms of the onset of lung disease, patients could seek out treatment at an earlier stage. Increased funding for research would lead to a better understanding and the development of novel treatment options. Each would play an important role in a better, perhaps longer, life after diagnosis.

Read the following articles to learn more of the importance of improving education and treatment options for patients with ILD:

Dream Big. Breathe Easier

Now that the Montreal Chest Institute Foundation and the MUHC Foundation have joined forces, they launched a $10 million dollar respiratory campaign. The Dream Big: Breathe Easier campaign will invest in both Breathtaking Research and Breath-Giving Care.

Did you know that we take more than 500 million breath in our lifetime? When our lungs are healthy, we don’t think twice abut our breathing and often take it for granted. However, for someone who is living with a respiratory disease, they are constantly faced with breathing difficulties and every breath can be a struggle. Respiratory diseases are on the rise globally. Over 3 million people die from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) annually, an estimated 6% of all deaths worldwide. 235 million people suffer from asthma. And outdoor air pollution causes over 4 million premature deaths each year.

Both foundations are working tirelessly to ensure their patients can breath easier. Together, they will continue to provide highly specialized patient care. Conduct cutting-edge medical research. And train the next generation of respiratory specialists and leaders.

Plan to help Montrealers Breathe Easier

BREATHTAKING RESEARCH

Innovation Grants. Respiratory Clinical Trials. The Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program of the RI-MUHC, the Respiratory Epidemiology and Clinical Research Unit and the Meakins-Christie Laboratories are pursuing new knowledge to change the course of respiratory medicine.

BREATH-GIVING CARE

Personalized Medicine. Home Monitoring. The Respiratory Day Hospital will be transformed into a living laboratory. Home monitoring will use wearable technologies to follow patients’ symptoms at home, helping predict medical episodes before they happen.

MUHC and MCI foundation campaign breath easy. Investing in breathtaking research and breath-giving care

MUHC Foundation and MCI Foundation merger to support the Dream Big Breathe Easier campaign

Merger to Benefit Respiratory Health

The Montreal Chest Institute is a world leader in the field of respiratory care. On February 24, 2021, the Montreal Chest Institute Foundation and the MUHC Foundation joined forces. This merger, together with the launch of a $10 million dollar Dream Big respiratory campaign, will ensure the Montreal Chest Institute remains an outstanding and world-renowned institution. This merger will benefit respiratory health and care for patients while also investing in life-saving clinical trials, research and innovation.

As part of the Dream Big, Breathe Easier campaign, funds will be used for groundbreaking research into respiratory diseases, clinical trials, the purchase of state-of-the-art respiratory equipment, the development of innovative treatment programs as well as funding for programs such as the Margaret Becklake Fellowship into Respiratory Research.

“The MCI has a long and storied history of helping patients with complex respiratory conditions. This important merger between these two Foundations of the MUHC will support our common goal of improving the quality of care for our patients and reinforcing our position as world leaders in research and innovation.”

Dr. Pierre Gfeller, President & Executive Director, McGill University Health Centre

“By joining forces with the MUHC Foundation, we can better support the renowned team of scientists conducting groundbreaking research. Together, we can work towards developing innovative solutions that will allow millions of people with respiratory disease, in Quebec and around the world, to breathe easier.”

Bryan Fitzpatrick, Chairman, Montreal Chest Institute Foundation

Many of our researchers at the Meakins-Christie Laboratories are leading specialists at the Montreal Chest Institute. When two such dynamic and influential foundations join forces, their investment in Breathtaking Research and Breath-Giving Care will continue to support the strong research culture at the Montreal Chest Institute.

Read the full article here:

Montreal Chest Institute Foundation and MUHC Foundation Join Forces, MUHC Foundation, February 24, 2021.

Launch of the Margaret Becklake Fellowship

DETAILS ABOUT THE DR. MARGARET BECKLAKE FELLOWSHIP

DR. MARGARET BECKLAKE: A PIONEERING LEADER IN RESPIRATORY MEDICINE

The Montreal Chest Institute Foundation is proud to honour Dr. Becklake’s legacy and immense contribution in developing generations of respiratory clinicians and researchers by launching the Dr. Margaret Becklake Fellowship. This fellowship will be awarded to at least one trainee in respiratory research every year and will pay her or his salary as s/he conducts research under the supervision of scientists at the Montreal Chest Institute of the McGill University Health Centre.

Recipients will be chosen from low- and middle-income countries as well as from Canadian Indigenous communities. Over the course of her career, Dr. Becklake had a major interest in respiratory health in lower-income countries, including in childhood asthma and occupational lung disease. She conducted research in this area for many years. Dr. Becklake also trained and hosted students in respiratory research from lower-income countries, who then became leaders in research and care in those countries.

Help us train the next generation of researchers and specialists in areas of the world where the need is greatest. Help us share the expertise we have at the Montreal Chest Institute around the globe. Help us continue Dr. Becklake’s legacy.

Dr. Margaret Becklake immigrated to Montreal in 1957 from South Africa. Her impact on respiratory care, research and teaching was profound. With other members of the McGill faculty, she worked on occupational lung disease, an interest she maintained from her early medical career in South Africa. She established the now well-known Respiratory Epidemiology and Clinical Research Unit at McGill and at the Montreal Chest Institute.

Dr. Becklake was renowned for her insistence upon the importance of a clearly stated, relevant research question and more generally for her clarity and insight. She was also unfailingly devoted to her patients and their families. The research unit she founded flourishes today, as it continues to emphasize respiratory research of direct relevance to patients and communities.

Read more here: https://mcifoundation.ca/dr-margaret-becklake-fellowship/

Nicole Ezer and the CONTAIN COVID-19 trial at the RI-MUHC with ciclesonide

COVID-19 contained with a nasal spray

Dr. Nicole Ezer is helping lead a trial with ciclesonide that promises to reduce symptoms of COVID-19. Read our initial posts about the trial here: Ciclesonide Clinical Trial for COVID-19 and ‘Contain COVID-19’ – in its earliest phases.

The Journal de Montreal reports the pursuits of our Quebec researchers and physicians in leading this trial. Ciclesonide has both anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Of the few trials testing ciclesonide, the one led here at the MUHC is the only one that is studying the administration of the drug by nasal spray and inhaler. Inhalers and sprays have the advantage of acting directly in the nose, the airways, and the lungs, right were the SARS-CoV-2 virus is actually replicating. The goal of the trial is to determine whether ciclesonide reduces respiratory symptoms and in turn reduces hospitalizations.

Dr. Ezer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University and a Junior Scientist with the RI-MUHC RESP Program.

To learn more about the trial or participate and the entire research team: www.contain-covid19.com/contenez-la-covid-19/  

Read the article:

COVID-19: un vaporisateur nasal en renfort. par Stéphanie Martin, Journal de Montréal. December 31, 2020.

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

LAU-7b clinical trial on COVID-19 treatment

The RI-MUHC is currently enrolling patients in RESOLUTION, a clinical trial of LAU-7b for the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The drug acts on lung inflammation and showed potent antiviral effects in-vitro against SARS-CoV-2. Results from previous studies in adult CF patients showed an important reduction of key pro-inflammatory biomarkers at the onset of a pulmonary exacerbation episodes, suggestive of a protective effect of the drug on the lungs.

Read more here:

Phase 2 clinical study with LAU-7b

An original post from April 2020 described the start of the clinical trial:

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.

The Research Institute of the MUHC is presently enrolling participants in the study, called RESOLUTION. LAU-7b is a novel oral form of a drug called fenretinide, which inhibits the inflammatory reaction of the body to the virus. This study could lead to improved treatments for hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are at higher risk of developing complications.

“Thanks to its inflammation-controlling properties, low-dose fenretinide triggers a natural mechanism – the body’s own resolution of the inflammation process – which keeps the inflammatory response under control without suppressing its protective immune role.”

Dr. Larry Lands

Read more here:

McGill spinoff Laurent Pharmaceuticals to begin clinical trial on COVID-19 treatment. Company to run a Phase 2 clinical study with LAU-7b, a pro-resolving drug with potential antiviral properties against coronavirus. By Junji Nishihata. McGill Reporter. April 11, 2020.

Dr. Dao Nguyen dreams of creating the Antimicrobial Resistance Centre to research a world without effective antibiotics

Preventing a post-antibiotic world

It is World Antimicrobial Awareness Week and Dr. Dao Nguyen, a researcher at MI4 and clinician-scientist at the Meakins-Christie Laboratories and the RI-MUHC, dreams of applying her knowledge and skills to preventing a post-antibiotic world. We have all read about the increasing strength of bacteria and hear how our present-day antibiotics are becoming ineffective. In fact, it is estimated that 20-30% of currently existing bacteria are resistant to available drugs. The WHO estimates that by 2050 drug-resistant organisms will surpass cancer as the primary cause of death. This is the problem Dr. Nguyen would like to take on.

She would like to create an interdisciplinary Antimicrobial Resistance Centre where members of the scientific community can combine their knowledge and work towards preventing a post-antibiotic world. Thanks to the MUHC Foundation’s fundraising efforts, Dr. Nguyen’s dream of an Antimicrobial Resistance Centre will likely come to fruition – something we should each be thankful for. Dr. Nguyen explains:

“Let’s say you accidentally cut yourself. Right now, you can get treatment from a topical cream or take antibiotic pills to cure the infection in a few days,” says Dr. Nguyen. “With antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it wouldn’t be treated as easily and the infection could spread requiring an amputation.”

An amputation would be an extreme result from a simple cut on the finger, yet an all too possible outcome if research is not carried out and solutions are not found.

Read the interview with Dr. Dao Nguyen here:

Dr. Sushmida Pamidi and team studied the effects of untreated sleep apnea on glucose levels of pregnant women with gestational diabetes.

Sleep, Pregnancy, and Type 2 Diabetes

November 14 is World Diabetes Day! In the lead-up to this, we are promoting work by Dr. Sushmita Pamidi, RESP program scientist, and Raphieal Newbold (MSc graduate). They are studying the link that may lead to better health for mother and baby. Sleep apnea has strong links with type 2 diabetes and is quite prevalent in pregnancy. The research team found that increasing severity of sleep apnea in pregnant women with gestational diabetes was, in fact, linked with higher glucose levels at night. It is possible that improved glucose control in pregnancy by treatment of sleep apnea could lead to improved overall outcomes for mother and baby.

A study published by the group in CHEST reveals that untreated sleep apnea can affect nighttime glucose levels of pregnant women who have gestational diabetes. Dr. Sushmita Pamidi and her team of researchers who carried out the study discovered a clear relationship between sleep, pregnancy, and type 2 diabetes.

The results of this study shed light on the importance of recognizing and treating sleep apnea in these pregnant women, an area that has not previously received much attention. Type 2 diabetes in pregnant women increases their risk for complications during pregnancy, after childbirth, and often results in an increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the children during their lifetime.

In present day, intervention with pregnant women experiencing gestational diabetes primarily focuses on improved nutrition and increased exercise. This study has brought to light another important focus for medical attention as summarized by Dr. Pamidi:

“Overall, we need to think more about the importance of sleep disorders in pregnant women. This may be a missing link in the lifestyle recommendations for this population.”

Dr. Sushmita Pamidi

Read the RI-MUHC story for Diabetes Awareness Month & World Diabetes Day:

Read the complete publication

Newbold R, Benedetti A, Kimoff RJ, Meltzer S, Garfield N, Dasgupta K, Gagnon R, Lavigne L, Olha A, Rey E, Pamidi S. Maternal Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Pregnancy and Increased Nocturnal Glucose Levels in Women with Gestational Diabetes. Chest. 2020 Jul 17:S0012-3692(20)31911-5.