Nouvelles cibles moléculaires et thérapeutiques dans les maladies pulmonaires inflammatoires : rôle du récepteur aryl-hydrocarbone

 

Carolyn Baglole

Université McGill

 

Domaine : Santé circulatoire et respiratoire

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 2

Concours 2016-2017

Cigarette smoke causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an incurable and deadly disease associated with chronic inflammation and irreversible airflow obstruction. People with COPD have difficulty breathing and are prone to exacerbations (or "lung attacks") caused by infections. Our studies are aimed at understanding how the body stops inflammation despite repeated exposure to toxicants such as cigarette smoke. We have identified that a cellular protein called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) reduces inflammation caused by smoke. We have also determined that AhR levels are lower in lung cells from people with COPD. Now we will evaluate if AhR levels can predict which smokers may develop COPD.

We will design new chemicals to test if activating the AhR stops smoke-induced inflammation (first step in developing new drugs to treat COPD) and see if the AhR also offers protection against respiratory infection. Finally we will evaluate if the AhR protects the lung against exposure to air pollution, another cause of COPD. Even though quitting smoking reduces the likelihood of developing COPD, it does not warrant that chronic inflammation and damage associated with long-term tobacco use will not progress to lung disease.

The research conducted here has the potential to lead to new approaches that would block some of the untoward health consequences caused by smoke. Given that nearly half of the Canadian population is composed of current and former smokers, the inherent benefits in terms of new and more selective therapies to treat tobacco smoke-associated lung disease is enormous.