THE PROBLEM. The adverse effects of smoking are now well established. The lung is the primary organ affected, with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as the most prevalent pulmonary disease caused by cigarette smoking. Despite years of research, the therapies for COPD remain largely ineffective particularly when compared to other chronic lung diseases such as asthma that can be very effectively managed. Our lack of understanding regarding the mechanisms responsible for the induction of chronic lung inflammation by smoking is largely to blame.
PREVIOUS FINDINGS. During my post-doctoral studies, we found that cigarette smoke-induced inflammation was triggered by the damage caused to the lipids of the pulmonary surfactant, a vital and dynamic structure that coats the small airways and the alveoli of the lungs. This critical finding represents a paradigm shift in the field of smoking-induced lung diseases and the foundation of this research program.
MAIN OBJECTIVE. The main objective of our program is to use our expertise on smoking-related lung diseases and pulmonary lipid metabolism to better understand the fundamental impact of smoking on pulmonary lipid homeostasis; to identify promising therapeutic targets; and to test molecules showing potential in pre-clinical settings.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH. Basic research on pulmonary lipid metabolism will be pursued in vitro using cell culture as well as in vivo using our unique mouse model of cigarette smoke exposure, the second largest in Canada. This animal model will also be used to test the efficacy of new therapies in reducing cigarette smoke-induced lung inflammation and preventing chronic lung damage.
SIGNIFICANCE. Building on our novel findings on the role of pulmonary lipid metabolism in smoking-induced lung pathologies, this unique research program will lead to new basic findings in the field of smoking-related lung pathologies and will create a research environment to bring the science to the patients.