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Partnership to promote lung disease research

Ottawa, ON – Understanding the role of the immune system in lung disease is the focus of new research projects funded through a $4.5 million partnership between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institutes of Infection and Immunity and Cardiovascular and Respiratory Health, AllerGen, a Network of Centres of Excellence based at McMaster University and the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CCFF).

The projects will be conducted at a number of Canadian universities and associated hospitals, and will bring together leading experts from a range of scientific disciplines to network on key research questions in this area.

The mucous membranes of the respiratory tract represent a major site of exposure of humans to allergens and infectious agents, yet much of our knowledge of the immune response comes from studying generalized infections and infections at non-mucosal sites. The lung represents a particularly important and understudied site of this interaction between infectious agent and its host.

This new research will have implications for understanding the immune response in the lung as it pertains to diseases caused by pneumonia, emerging infectious agents like avian influenza or the SARS virus, tuberculosis and multi-drug-resistant organisms, all of which can cause dramatic changes in the lung’s protective immune response. These health challenges have high potential for serious harm, especially in children, the elderly or individuals with a weakened immune system.