UCSF has a long history of research in asthma and especially in mechanisms of airway inflammation in asthma. Over the past 50 years, multiple faculty members at UCSF have contributed importantly to current knowledge of the specific cells and mediators that drive inflammation in the airways in asthma. Seminal discoveries at UCSF have provided rationale for the treatment of asthma with inhaled anticholinergic drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids, leukotriene receptor antagonists, and anti-cytokine therapies (especially anti IL13). UCSF has also been a leader in identifying molecular subtypes of asthma and in developing biomarkers for specific asthma subtypes.
Today, asthma research at UCSF is as vibrant as ever with major research initiatives in asthma occurring on the Parnassus campus, the Mission Bay campus, at San Francisco General Hospital, and at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center. Most multicenter asthma research initiatives funded by the NIH include UCSF, which is a participating center for programs such as AsthmaNet, the Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP), the Asthma and Allergy Research Diseases Cooperative Research Centers (AADCRC), and the Inner City Asthma Consortium. Major asthma cohort studies are also based here, including cohort studies in minority populations that are focused on asthma genetics. UCSF also has two program project grants focused on exploration of mechanisms of airway inflammation and remodeling in asthma.
The UCSF Airway Clinical Research Center (ACRC) at the Parnassus Campus is a major hub of clinical studies and trials for asthma. Investigators in the ACRC aim to uncover disease mechanisms, develop disease biomarkers, and evaluate novel treatments for asthma. The ACRC is a multidisciplinary research unit, which fosters interactions between physician investigators in the Department of Medicine, basic science researchers (especially UCSF’s SABRE program), clinical fellows, and faculty from the Departments of Pediatrics and the School of Nursing. The ACRC represents a unique infrastructure that houses both dedicated clinical research space and sophisticated bench laboratories. Current clinical studies include:
- Effect of Vitamin D as an Add-on Therapy to Corticosteroids in Asthma (the VIDA study) – the purpose of the study is to examine the effect of vitamin D in addition to asthma controller medications symptoms of asthma.
- Characterization of Asthma Subtypes (the CASA study): Not all asthma is the same, and the CASA study aims to perform careful testing of lung function and careful analyses of mucus and blood specimens to determine how one type of asthma differs from another and it logical treatment can be devised for each subtype.
- Role of microRNAs in T Cell-Driven Inflammation in Asthma (the RITA study). MicroRNAs are small molecules that regulate how genes are expressed in cells in the body. T cells are immune cells that are central to mechanisms of inflammation in the airway. The RITA study will explore how specific microRNAs affect the function of T cells in ways that could promote asthma.
- Longitudinal study of Severe Asthma: Funded by the Severe Asthma Research Program, this seven-center study aims to improve the understanding of severe asthma in order to develop better treatments.
- Mechanisms of Asthma Exacerbations: The major focus of this study is to investigate how abnormal mucus forms in the airways during asthma attacks, and to explores novel agents that could help reduce the viscosity and elasticity of this rubbery mucus.
For more information on Asthma research, call 415-502-4849 or visit ACRC