Current therapies for chronic respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) are largely palliative, providing short-term relief of symptoms and improvement in quality of life. With an aging population, increased chronic tobacco use, and a decline in air quality, COPD is projected to become the third leading cause of death by 2030.
Within the Respiratory group at NIBR, our goal is to develop transformative therapies that halt and reverse the underlying disease mechanisms of 1) increased mucus burden resulting in air flow obstruction, and 2) impaired mucociliary clearance leading to increased risk of respiratory infection, and to develop therapies aimed at regenerating the alveolus in emphysema and IPF. Central to these goals, our group draws on complex 3D organoid assays cultured from primary patient cells, novel in vivo models and ex vivo lung preparations, and molecular profiling of patient material to identify and validate key pathways responsible for airway epithelial cell dysfunction. We aim to leverage such approaches to delineate the effect of aging on epithelial cell function in these disease mechanisms.