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.

Graphical abstract: Targeting the OXE receptor as a potential novel therapy for asthma. William Powell

Promising treatment option for eosinophilic-driven disorders

Liminal BioSciences, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, has acquired a preclinical research program of small OXE molecule antagonists. This program is based on the research of Dr. William Powell, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Medicine at McGill University, working in collaboration with Dr. Joshua Rokach of the Florida Institute of Technology.

Investigational therapies developed in this program target a key chemoattractant and activator of eosinophils, which play a key role in Type 2 inflammation-driven diseases through tissue repair and resolution of inflammation. Drs. Powell and Rokach developed a series of potentially first-in-class, oral, selective OXE receptor antagonists against 5-oxo-ETE, one of the most potent human eosinophil chemoattractants. Migration of eosinophils to body sites including the lungs and intestines is mediated by eosinophil chemoattractants such as 5-oxo-ETE. Eosinophils play a key role in Type 2 inflammation-driven diseases, including certain respiratory and gastro-intestinal diseases. Dr. Powell will serve as an advisor to Liminal BioSciences on the Fairhaven R&D Program.

“Compared to biologics, small molecule OXE receptor antagonists offer a promising and potentially more cost-effective treatment option for eosinophilic-driven disorders. I am looking forward to working with Liminal BioSciences to continue development on this exciting R&D program initiated by work carried out at McGill University and FIT.”

Dr. Powell

Read the entire press release by Liminal BioSciences:

Jean Bourbeau receives funding from the CIHR 2020 COVID-19 May 2020 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity

COVID-19 and COPD

Dr. Jean Bourbeau received funding from the CIHR COVID-19 May 2020 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity. Title of grant: COVID-19 and COPD: Important knowledge gaps in subclinical pulmonary disease in the Canadian population.

Congratulations Jean!

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

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 here

Why do some non-smokers get COPD while many heavy smokers don’t? A new study highlights a strong risk factor for COPD related to lung development. RI-MUHC News. June 9, 2020.

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.

RAMQ should remove financial barriers to smoking-cessation

RAMQ: Remove Financial Barriers to Smoking-Cessation!

An opinion piece published by Sean Gilman in The Gazette on May 18, 2020, emphasizes the importance of increased RAMQ support for patients who require multiple courses of nicotine replacement therapy and other smoking cessation Rx. It reflects a letter to the health ministry prepared by Sean Gilman, Dr. Jean Bourbeau, and more than 100 other professionals, and is particularly meaningful during the current pandemic.

Dr. Bourbeau is an associate member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories and a senior scientist in the RI-MUHC RESP Program. He brings many years of experience to his work, as do the other professionals working with him, giving considerable weight to their assertions.

Read the piece in more detail:

Opinion: Amid COVID-19, helping smokers quit is more urgent than ever. Quebec should end the limits on forms, duration, frequency and dose of proven smoking-cessation treatments covered by the public drug plan. Special to Montreal Gazette. By Sean Gilman. May 18, 2020.

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:

Faible risque de complications pour les enfants asthmatiques. Interview with TVA Nouvelles. May 1, 2020.

Dr. Jean Bourbeau: COVID-19 & COPD

What to do for COPD patients during a pandemic

Listen to Dr Jean Bourbeau’s discussion of the elevated risks faced by people with respiratory illnesses in the face of a COVID-19 diagnosis. Dr Bourbeau is involved in the CanCOLD study which aims to improve early diagnosis and treatment of people with COPD. He is a member of the RESP program and an associate member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories.

Listen here:

Le COVID-19 et les risques pour les personnes aux prises avec des problèmes respiratoires : entrevue avec Dr Jean Bourbeau, pneumologue au CUSM – 98.5 FM

Quebec Respiratory health network logo

Epigenetics of vaping project funded by QRHN

Congratulations Carolyn Baglole! The Quebec Respiratory Health Network (QRHN) awarded one (1) year funding for her collaborative project entitled “Evaluate the Epigenetic Lung Effects of Vaping“. The project was funded through the Priority Projects Grants Program (2019-2020).

The Mentorship program of the QRHN also funded Tania Janaudis-Ferreira. Title: Improving ACCEPTance and uptake of Pulmonary Rehabilitation after acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – The ACCEPT PR STUDY. Dr. Janaudis-Ferreira is an Associate Member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories and an investigator at the RI-MUHC Respiratory Program.

The Quebec Respiratory Health research Network (QRHN) is one of 20 thematic networks funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé. It brings together more than 490 researchers, pulmologists, health professionals and students. The goal of the Network is to provide a provincial structure in respiratory health based on the participation of researchers in this field, to promote the integration of the different research components, namely clinical, evaluative, epidemiological and fundamental research.

Dr. Jean Bourbeau named 2019 distinguished CHEST Educator

Jean Bourbeau named distinguished CHEST Educator

Dr. Jean Bourbeau was honoured as a 2019 Distinguished CHEST Educator by the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST). He also received this recognition in 2017 and 2018. The designation provides recognition of excellence in continuing medical education, placing Dr. Bourbeau within the top 4% of CHEST faculty worldwide.

Congratulations Dr. Bourbeau!

“The greatest achievement someone can consider is seen in the people we train. Real values in what we are doing in medicine, besides taking care of patients, live by being handed down to others,” … “CHEST has given me the privilege over the years to advance best patient outcomes through innovative chest medicine education. However, this would not have been possible without the contribution of all the people working with me, in particular those at the MUHC and McGill University, and my patients who have always been an inspiration.”

Dr. Jean Bourbeau

About the award: The Distinguished CHEST Educator designation recognizes the achievements of members who have made significant and long-term contributions to the leadership, development, and delivery of CHEST education by serving as CHEST committee chairs, vice-chairs, faculty, content developers, members, and peer reviewers for programs and activities, such as CHEST Annual Meeting, CHEST Board Review courses, CHEST SEEK™ education, Live Learning, CHEST Immersion, e-Learning, and more.

Dr. Bourbeau is a member of RECRU, the RI-MUHC RESP Program, and an associate member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories. His research expertise are in COPD, rehabilitation, disease and self-management (Living Well with COPD livingwellwithcopd.com), health and behaviour, and clinical evaluative research.

Read the full article here:

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 interview here:

So much to discover: Research in the era of legal cannabis, McGill News. By Sylvain Comeau. Sept 2019.

More about the McGill Research Centre for Cannabis: https://www.mcgill.ca/cannabis/

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.