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The UNC Adult Asthma Program conducts basic research and clinical trials to help advance knowledge and management of asthma in adults. These trials include: a severe asthma patient registry, digital health studies, biologic medications, and population health among others.

Laboratory Research

Mast cells are immune cells that reside in airway wall. In patients with allergic asthma, mast cells become activated after exposure to allergens (house dust mite, pollen, etc.) and release mediators that can cause asthma attacks. We are investigating ways to inhibit mast cell degranulation in the laboratory using human mast cells in culture.
Ozone is a major cause of asthma attacks in some patients with asthma. We have recently discovered in animal models and cell culture that ozone stimulates airway cells to release mediators that activate mast cells and cause bronchospasm or airway constriction.  We plan to see if ozone can also stimulate mast cells in the airways of humans with asthma and determine if blocking mast cells can prevent ozone-induced bronchospasm.
Bactericidal/permeability-increasing fold-containing family member A1 (BPIFA1) is one of the most abundant proteins secreted into airways. We have discovered that levels of BPIFA1 are reduced in the airways of patients with asthma. We are conducting studies to determine how low BPIFA1 levels cause or contribute to asthma development and whether or not restoring BPIFA1 levels to normal will improve asthma symptoms.

Clinical Research

The UNC AAP is participating in a multi-center study (CHRONICLE) to describe patient characteristics, treatment patterns, and health outcomes among a large, geographically diverse cohort of American adults with severe asthma who are not controlled on high-dose inhaled steroids with additionally daily medicines and/or oral corticosteroids (e.g. prednisone) or injectable biologic therapy. Data will be collected in a naturalistic manner and patient management will not be influenced by the study protocol. Nearly all of the study is accomplished through participants performing self-assessments on-line while at home.
The UNC AAP is participating in a multi-center study (PASSAGE) to learn more about how TEZSPIRE (tezepelumab) works in the real word, in a broad population of adult and adolescent patients with severe asthma, including types of patients who previously have not been studied enough, and also to better understand asthma and associated health problems.
The purpose of this study is to allow for the laboratory examination and characterization of inflammatory cells found in sputum, nasal cells and components in exhaled breath. Sputum samples may also be tested for the presence of proteins and genetic variations thought to be important in inflammation.
The UNC AAP has been awarded a grant by the UNC Center for Health Innovation to participate in 2 projects involving the CapMedic inhaler digital sensor in partner with Cognita Labs, LLC. One project will be a quality improvement project to test the CapMedic sensor clinically and the other project will be an investigator-initiated clinical research study aimed at validating the CapMedic sensor’s ability to measure inhalational flows. Read more about the projects here.