Researchers in Adelaide are about to begin the biggest asthma study of its type in the world.
The Asthma and Macrolides: Azithromycin Efficacy and Safety (AMAZES) study will explore a new way of treating inflammations in asthma patients by studying the role of macrolide antibiotics in persistent asthma.
Associate Professor Paul Reynolds and Associate Professor Sandra Hodge, researchers at the Hanson Institute and Royal Adelaide Hospital are part of a team incorporating leading asthma researchers from around the country including Perth, Brisbane and Newcastle, NSW. The group has just secured AU$2.9 million over 5 years from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for the study.
"Current asthma medication is often targeted to treating a particular cell, called an eosinophil," A/Prof Reynolds said. "Increased levels of eosinophils are thought to be responsible for inflammation of the airways. However, almost half of people with asthma symptoms have normal levels of eosinophils respond less well current asthma therapies. In this group, a different cell, the neutrophil, may be more important."
"The Newcastle group, headed by Prof Peter Gibson has previously used macrolide antibiotics to successfully treat very severe non-eosinophilic asthma patients, significantly reducing their asthmatic symptoms and improving their quality of life. The Adelaide group has successfully shown that azithromycin can reduce inflammatory markers and improve cell function in chronic bronchitis, a disease in which the neutrophil is also important The AMAZES study will determine how effective macrolides are in general for people with asthma, establish the best way to use them, and ensure they are safe to use.
In addition, a number of important cell biology questions will be addressed. More than 2.2 million people in Australia suffer from asthma, a national research priority area for the country.
The AMAZES study will begin shortly in Adelaide Newcastle, Brisbane, Perth.
(Source: Asthma Foundation of South Australia: June 2009)