Category Archives: Chronic Airways Disease

Chronic Airways Disease Theme: Chronic airway diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, and bronchopulmonary dysplasia share common features of chronic airflow obstruction and structural changes of the airways. These disorders are associated with an underlying inflammatory process that is driven by genetic susceptibility as well as environmental factors such as allergens and cigarette smoke. The main research questions being investigated focus on elucidating the basic mechanisms that lead to the development of chronic airways disease. Studies are also attempting to identify and characterize the clinical heterogeneity of these diseases in order to better personalize prognostic, diagnostic and therapeutic tools.

Major scientific objectives of the chronic airways diseases theme include: (1) Elucidate pathogenetic mechanisms and develop novel therapeutics for allergic inflammation & airway hyperresponsiveness. (2) Understand the cellular and molecular basis for irritant (including air pollution & cigarette smoke) -induced lung disease, and its relevance to COPD and the Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome (ACOS). (3) Ascertain the biological basis for different asthma phenotypes, particularly severe asthma that is resistant to usual therapies.

View posts, news, and publications related to this research theme below.

Carolyn Baglole: Director of the McGill Research Centre for Cannabis

Research in the era of legal cannabis

Dr. Carolyn Baglole is the director of the new McGill Research Centre for Cannabis. This centre is positioning itself to examine the role of cannabis, all the way from plants, to people, to policy. She was recently interviewed by McGill News.

Read the full article here: So much to discover: Research in the era of legal cannabis
More about the McGill Research Centre for Cannabis: https://www.mcgill.ca/cannabis/
(photo by Owen Egan)

Is this centre the first of its kind?

It’s not the first, but it is one of the most comprehensive; this centre will be going from plants to people to policy. That means we will focus on three research axes. [Researchers in] agriculture and plant sciences will conduct fundamental studies on the plant itself – crop management, for example. Our biomedical research axis will encompass both pre-clinical and clinical studies – for example, looking at pain management, and sleep. We also have a socioeconomics and law axis, which focuses on a broad range of financial, legal, policy, regulatory and educational matters emerging from legalization.

Is this an emerging area of research, and was it inhibited, in the past, by taboos?

Issues surrounding legality and social stigma have hampered research. As a result, there is so much information, on all fronts, that we lack. Legalization has really opened the floodgates for cannabis research.

This is important not just because of legalization, but also because of the medicinal use of cannabis?

Yes, we need to understand the potential medicinal applications. We want to understand the growth of the plant, how that affects its chemicals and how they work to alleviate disease symptoms.

One of your goals is to separate myths from reality?

Yes, that is really about being open in our scientific quest. We want to let the data and the science unfold, learning what that story is telling us. Ultimately, the science will inform us as to what is true and what is not.

Why is it essential that the centre be trans-disciplinary?

We can learn from each other. For example, I am involved in the biomedical axis; our colleagues from agriculture and plant sciences may be able to identify a strain of cannabis that produces chemicals which can then be applied in a biomedical setting.

Trans-disciplinary research is really about being comprehensive in our research approach. We combine one person’s area of expertise with that of another, in order to understand a subject as a whole. As compared to isolated projects, we gain a more fundamental understanding.

Dr. Jean Bourbeau was interviewed by Radio-Canada TV show "24/60" about the dangers of vaping.

Potential hazards of vaping products

Dr. Jean Bourbeau was interviewed by Radio-Canada TV show “24/60” about the dangers of vaping.

Health Canada issued warnings about the potential hazards of vaping products. Watch the interview with Dr. Jean Bourbeau for the Radio-Canada show “24/60” on this very topic. Note, his interview begins at around 36 minutes.

This video is available in French only. 

Les dangers du vapotage

Santé Canada a émis aujourd’hui des mises en garde quant aux dangers potentiels des produits de vapotage. Des centaines de personnes ont été hospitalisées aux États-Unis et au moins un décès est attribuable à la cigarette électronique. Devrait-on s’inquiéter?

Dr. Jean Bourbeau is a RESP Program member and an Associate Member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories. His research focuses primarily on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and secondarily on disease management, self-management, pulmonary rehabilitation and cardiorespiratory exercise physiology.

CCIC Researcher Profile – Dr. Carolyn Baglole

Dr. Carolyn Baglole was featured in the July 2019 CCIC Newsletter. Her research was profiled in their monthly research highlights. Read the newsletter excerpt below.

Dr. Baglole received her BSc and MSc from the University of Prince Edward Island, and completed her PhD at the University of Calgary. She then did postdoctoral work in the fields of lung biology/toxicology in the Department of Environment Medicine at the University of Rochester (Rochester NY) before returning to Canada at McGill University.

Dr. Baglole’s translational research program seeks to identify novel cellular and molecular pathways that regulate the pathogenesis of chronic lung diseases. Her main research focus is to understand how these environmental exposures contribute to pathogenic mechanisms such as chronic inflammation and cell death (apoptosis) that drive the development of diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.

In relation to the CCIC, her lab is currently examining how various forms of inhaled cannabis and/or cannabinoids affects lung and immune function. Using pre-clinical models, her team will investigate activation of cellular signaling pathways by exposure to cannabis/cannabinoids, how cannabis exposure effects immune cell numbers and function and whether newer forms of inhaled cannabis products impact lung function. Working with clinicians and other scientists, she is developing an interdisciplinary program for biomedical cannabis research to explore the full potential of cannabis and cannabinoids in human health and disease. For this, she will have a state-of-the-art inhalation facility. This is important, as the most common way to consume cannabis is through inhalation (of smoke or vaporized cannabis/cannabinoids). With this, she will be able to deliver inhaled cannabis and cannabis-derived cannabinoids/novel drugs in a real-world scenario to assess efficacy in disease models and understand the immune-medicated mechanisms involved in the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

Read more about Dr. Baglole: https://www.meakinsmcgill.com/baglole/

Read more about the McGill Research Centre for Cannabis: https://mcgill.ca/cannabis/



Human Airway Branch Variation and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Airway Branching Associated with COPD Risk

Dr. Benjamin Smith, in collaboration with Dr. Carolyn Baglole and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, published “Human Airway Branch Variation and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Together, their study shows that the internal anatomy of our lungs is surprisingly variable. Furthermore, some of those variations are associated with a greater risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). (January 2018)

View full publication: Human airway branch variation and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smith BM, Traboulsi H, Austin JHM, Manichaikul A, Hoffman EA, Bleecker ER, Cardoso WV, Cooper C, Couper DJ, Dashnaw SM, Guo J, Han MK, Hansel NN, Hughes EW, Jacobs DR Jr, Kanner RE, Kaufman JD, Kleerup E, Lin CL, Liu K, Lo Cascio CM, Martinez FJ, Nguyen JN, Prince MR, Rennard S, Rich SS, Simon L, Sun Y, Watson KE, Woodruff PG, Baglole CJ, Barr RG; MESA Lung and SPIROMICS investigators. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Jan 30;115(5):E974-E981. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1715564115. Epub 2018 Jan 16. PMID: 29339516

View articles and interviews about this research:

funding news for the Meakins-Christie Laboratories

Prognostic and therapeutic utility of human antigen R (HUR) in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Dr. Carolyn Baglole was interviewed about her recent grant entitled “Prognostic and therapeutic utility of human antigen R (HUR) in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis”. Her project received 2 year funding from Boehringer-Ingleheim’s Innovation in Understanding ILD (BUILD) program. (April 2017)

Read more here: BUILD grant breathes life into lung disease research. Supported by funding from Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd, Carolyn Baglole hopes to unravel the mystery of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a fatal lung disease that affects some 15,000 Canadians.

Pulmonary research group in Canada: the Meakins-Christie Laboratories

STAT6-IP reduces the development of allergic-type lung inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness

Dr. Elizabeth Fixman and Dr. Brian Ward (IDIGH Program at RI-MUHC) co-authored a study in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology demonstrating that STAT6-IP reduces the development of allergic-type lung inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness in mice re-challenged with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). (February 2017)

Read the full press release here

Scientists discover peptide that could reduce the incidence of RSV-related asthma

New research published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology suggests that a peptide developed to inhibit a key regulator of asthma responses reduces development of inflammation and ‘twitchy’ airways in mice

For Details: Bharat T. Srinivasa, Katherine H. Restori, Jichuan Shan, Louis Cyr, Li Xing, Soojin Lee, Brian J. Ward, and Elizabeth D. Fixman. STAT6 inhibitory peptide given during RSV infection of neonatal mice reduces exacerbated airway responses upon adult reinfection. doi:10.1189/jlb.4A0215-062RR ; http://www.jleukbio.org/content/101/2/519.abstract

RI-MUHC researchers lead the first oral desensitization program in Canada

Desensitization program helps kids with milk allergies

New milk allergy research being led at the RI-MUHC. Pediatric allergy and immunology specialists Dr. Bruce Mazer and Dr. Moshe Ben-Shoshan (Montreal Children’s Hospital) started the GET-FACTS (Genetics, Environment and Therapies: Food Allergy Clinical Tolerance Studies) study in 2012.

The program is having good success with helping children with milk allergies build up tolerance to milk protein by introducing the allergen very slowly into the diet. They were interviewed by CTV, La Presse, Radio-Canada, 98,5 fm, the Gazette, CJAD and Le Devoir (September 2016).

More about the study at GET-FACTS: https://www.getfactsmilk.com/ https://www.getfactsmilk.com/

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STAT6 inhibitory peptide

Educating the immune system with SAT6-IP

The STAT6 inhibitory peptide can educate the immune system away from developing an allergic response.

Dr. Elizabeth Fixman developed STAT6-IP, a chimeric inhibitory peptide with the ability to enter cells and disrupt activity of the STAT6 transcription factor. STAT6 has been show to inhibit aberrant Th2 responses in the airways of preclinical models of respiratory syncytial virus infection (Eur J Immunol 2014) and asthma (J Immunol 2007Clin Exp Allergy 2011Mucosal Immunol 2015). 

The latter publication by Dr. Christine McCusker received significant media attention.

This work was also selected for one of the top ten scientific breakthroughs of 2015 selected by Québec Science and Dr. Christine McCusker was nominated as the Feb 2016 Researcher of the Month by Canadians for Health Research.

View articles and interviews about this research: