The Centre for Respiratory Research at McGill University and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre
Category Archives: Lung Injury and Infection
Lung Injury and Infection Theme: The respiratory system is exposed to many environmental insults throughout life that can result in acute or chronic injury to the lungs. Both infectious and non-infectious agents can trigger inflammation, which is essential to combat infections but also requires exquisite regulation to avoid counterproductive lung damage. In addition to major respiratory pathogens such as tuberculosis (TB), dysregulated inflammation triggered by bacteria and viruses is a major contributing factor to numerous respiratory diseases (e.g., cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). This theme investigates the key molecular signaling pathways underlying pulmonary inflammation under these conditions, with the goal of developing new targeted therapies and biomarkers predictive of disease responses. Our researchers are also leaders in the performance of large-scale diagnostic and treatment studies involving patients infected with TB.
Major scientific objectives for the lung injury and infection theme include:(1) Identify the key molecular effectors of innate and adaptive immunity required for an integrated response to respiratory pathogens such as influenza, TB, and cryptococcus neoformans. (2) Dissect host-pathogen interactions driving chronic infections versus acute infectious pulmonary exacerbations in chronic lung diseases (eg. Pseudomonas in cystic fibrosis). (3) Investigate the molecular underpinnings of beneficial versus pathological responses by different components of lung mucosal immunity. (4) Explore the mechanistic links between cellular metabolism and fibrogenic processes in the lung.
View posts, news, and publications related to this research theme below.
Read the opinion piece co-written by Dr. Faiz Ahmad Khanin the Hill Times – published March 25, 2020 here:
With the arrival of COVID-19, Canada’s health-care system is being tested as never before. Canadian leaders must elicit the assistance of private industry to ensure its continued success, as health-care supplies and equipment are rapidly depleted. A substantial increase in testing for the virus together with significant financial investments in research, aimed at a deeper understanding of the virus and development of a vaccine, should also be top priorities. Solid financial support for all those impacted by the virus will ensure a rapid return to normal once the crisis has abated. Maintaining open communication and collaboration between leaders, the government, and with partners across the board is the key to our ultimate success.
Dr. Salman Qureshi and colleagues from the Critical Care – Infectious Diseases Network in Canada speak to the critical actions needed as we experience this public health crisis.
Read the full new article in the National Post published on March 17, 2020 here:
Canadian leaders can reduce the damage caused by COVID-19 to Canadians and Canadian society by paying close attention to decisions taken in countries currently experiencing severe outbreaks. Strategies to mitigate the spread of the virus amongst the population, minimizing the strain of our healthcare system at any one time, coupled with a sharing of resources across boundaries as the demand for health-care fluctuates, will together play an important role on the ultimate long-term effect of this virus on our society.
Faiz’s project was ranked 1st and is among the first projects funded through this innovative competition. Congratulations Faiz! Using tuberculosis as an example, the study will evaluate the effectiveness and impact of diagnostic tools based on artificial intelligence to see how they influence health equity.
Project title. AI “solutions” to global health challenges: an inter-disciplinary case study to critically evaluate the development and implementation of an artificial-intelligence based tool for diagnosing tuberculosis, the world’s leading infectious killer.
Team Members: Faiz Ahmad Khan (McGill University), Pierre-Marie David (Université de Montréal) and Sabaa Khan (University of Eastern Finland, School of Law).
The delegation was part of working visit by McGill University and the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4). Presentations were on selected research topics related to infection including global health, the role of microbiota in infections and personalized medicine.
The first day of the meeting focused on research needs to overcome key barriers and knowledge gaps affecting the scale-up of TB preventive treatment. Experts reviewed recent advances in diagnosis and treatment of LTBI and shared implementation experience generated over the past 5 years. A revised priority list of research topics was discussed, covering diagnosis, treatment and implementation research.
Dr. Dick Menzies was interviewed. Dr. Menzies is a RESP Program member and an Associate Member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories was interviewed. His research focuses on clinical and epidemiologic aspects of tuberculosis. His clinical research involves diagnosis of latent as well as active TB.
Did you know that dragonfly wings are naturally antibacterial?
Biofilms are colonies of bacteria that can attach securely to the surface of certain medical devices. Shockingly, a quarter of all nosocomial infections are reported to be associated with the use of infected equipment, based on American data.
RI-MUHC researcher Dao Nguyen shares some thoughts on combatting biofilms in this short article from Quebec Science. Her research team is looking at the wings of dragonflies and cicadas to better design safe antibacterial materials. Nanometric structures on dragaonfly and cicada wings actually kill bacteria by physical contact. Therefore, there is great interest to design and develop antibacterial materials that mimic this natural structure.
The research team will observe interactions between bacteria and these newly designed materials, then test the most promising against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacteria responsible for hospital-acquired infections as well as fatal infections in people with cystic fibrosis. It has an ability to form biofilms and is naturally resistant to many drugs.
If the results are conclusive, the materials may eventually be used on a large scale to make safer medical devices and instruments.
Congratulations to the following Spring 2019 Project Grant Recipients!
Dr. Sushmita Pamidi received funding for her project co-led with Evelyn Constantin (CHHD program) entitled “Maternal sleep-disordered breathing during pregnancy and long-term health outcomes in children: the 3D pregnancy and birth cohort”. Dr. John Kimoff is a co-investigator on the grant.
Dr. Larry Lands is a co-applicant with Dr. Michael Parkins (University of Calgary) for the grant entitled “The influence of Cytomegalovirus infection on cystic fibrosis disease progression”.
Congratulations to Dorival Martins Jr, postdoctoral fellow in Biochemistry, McGill University (supervisor: Dr. Dao Nguyen) for his Relève étoile Jacques-Genest award from the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) for the month of July.
Dr. Maziar Divangahiand his postdoctoral fellow Dr. Erwan Pernet are on a promising path towards developing flu treatment using a lipid target. They identified a new role for the lipid mediator Leukotriene B4 in the lung. In a study published in Nature Microbiology, they show that the LTB4 molecule is capable of not only reducing collateral tissue damage caused by immune responses but also enhancing host survival.
“The influenza virus is not the only threat; the host’s own immune response is mainly responsible for jeopardizing host survival. Therefore, it is essential to understand the regulatory mechanisms that maintain the tight balance between protective and harmful immunity.”
– Erwan Pernet
Influenza remains a global public health challenge, according to the World Health Organization. Each year, there are an estimated one billion people cases worldwide, resulting in 290,000 to 650,000 influenza-related respiratory deaths.
Dr. Divangahi’s laboratory has focused on new immunotherapies targeting the immune system via host lipid mediators to either effectively kill the virus or limit lung tissue damage. In this study, they focused on the LTB4 lipid mediator and its effects on the immune response to flu infection. After working with mice lacking the receptor for LTB4, they were able to identify a network of regulatory mechanisms that maintain the tight balance between protective and harmful immunity. Also, of particular importance to future clinical studies was the finding that a single dose of LTB4 at the peak of disease was enough to significantly reduce lung immunopathology and tissue damage and improve host survival.
“For the first time we show there is a subtype of macrophages in the lungs that are able to produce this immunoregulatory lipid (LTB4) to reduce the inflammation caused by another macrophage population that is responsible for causing lung tissue damage during influenza infection.”