Research insights into lung diseases focus of new centre

April 14 / 133

Launch of the Lung Health Research Centre from left to right: Professors Alastair Stewart, (LHRC), Geoff McColl, deputy Dean, MDHS, Professor Christine Jenkins, Senior Staff Specialist in the Department of Thoracic Medicine Concord Hospital, Clinical Professor and Head of Respiratory Discipline, University of Sydney, and Head of Respiratory Trials at The George Institute for Global Health, Louis Irving, Head Respiratory Medicine RMH, Gary Anderson, Director, LHRC, Jo Douglass Head, Clinical Immunology and Allergy, RMH and Linda Denehy (Head Physiotherapy, FMDHS). Photo credit: Michael Fromholtz.
Launch of the Lung Health Research Centre from left to right: Professors Alastair Stewart, (LHRC), Geoff McColl, deputy Dean, MDHS, Professor Christine Jenkins, Senior Staff Specialist in the Department of Thoracic Medicine Concord Hospital, Clinical Professor and Head of Respiratory Discipline, University of Sydney, and Head of Respiratory Trials at The George Institute for Global Health, Louis Irving, Head Respiratory Medicine RMH, Gary Anderson, Director, LHRC, Jo Douglass Head, Clinical Immunology and Allergy, RMH and Linda Denehy (Head Physiotherapy, FMDHS). Photo credit: Michael Fromholtz.

The University’s new Lung Health Research Centre has brought together clinicians and researchers from the Royal Melbourne Hospital Departments of Respiratory Medicine Clinical Immunology, and the University’s Department of Physiotherapy, to consolidate lung health research.

The Centre was launched on 10 April and is based at the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. 

It will improve the lung health of Australians through a network of collaborative research with other lung research organisations and academic centres in Australia  and international centres in China, Europe and the USA.

Coinciding with the launch of the Centre, researchers at the University have discovered a new insight into the unexplained link between lung infections, emphysema and lung cancer.

Recent new findings show a link to a new possible cause of lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer death in men and women in Australia.

Professor Gary Anderson, Director of the Centre said, “Lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, lung cancer, fibrosis and lung infections are now amongst the most common and costly disease burdens in Australia and globally.”

Lead investigator Associate Professor Steve Bozinovski found that a blood protein called SAA was greatly elevated in emphysema patients suffering chest infections, a finding that could ultimately improve diagnostics for lung cancer.

“We have known previously that a destructive cell called the "Macrophage" was unusually altered in emphysema. Our new discovery shows that the SAA protein causes macrophages to be changed into this "alternative" cell type. 

“Now that we understand this link, we should be able to start understanding why emphysema is so closely linked with cancer,” said Associate Professor Bozinovski.

The findings will soon be published in the prestigious journal, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).

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