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Link between Respiratory Viruses and Asthma to be Explored

July 11, 2013

The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) has received a five year, $670,000 grant from the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study the immune response believed responsible for the link between respiratory viral infections and the development of asthma.

Dorothy Cheung, MD is the principal investigator of the grant. Dr. Cheung is an assistant professor of pediatrics and medicine within the section of allergy and immunology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She is also an investigator at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Research Institute, and sees adult and pediatric patients at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Asthma continues to be a major health concern worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 19 million adults and seven million children have asthma in the United States alone. Respiratory viral infections have been associated with the development of asthma as well as exacerbation of asthmatic symptoms. The immune response to viral infections may explain the mechanism for these associations.

In this project, Dr. Cheung will study the role of neutrophils, the most abundant white blood cells in the body, in the development of respiratory virus induced asthma. The studies conducted will help pave the way for new treatment approaches to respiratory viral infections that may prevent the development and/or exacerbation of asthma.

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