Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Dr. Gerthoffer Awarded NIH Research Grant to Develop Therapies for Asthma

Dr. William Gerthoffer works in the lab with Sabrina Ramelli, a third-year graduate student in the lung biology track of the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program. Her thesis project will be supported by NIH funding.
Dr. William Gerthoffer, professor and chair of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently was awarded a research grant by the National Institutes of Health to help develop new oligonucleotide-based therapies for those suffering from severe asthma. The grant award totals $416,625.

A significant number of patients suffer from severe asthma, a debilitating and potentially fatal disease that is not well controlled by current drug therapy. For patients with severe asthma, new types of drugs are needed to stop the progression of the disease and repair damaged airways. The goal of Dr. Gerthoffer’s research is to block the disease-promoting effects of naturally occurring, small ribonucleic acid molecules, which are short, single-stranded nucleotides that control protein synthesis.

Dr. Gerthoffer's lab, in collaboration with Dr. Robert Barrington's lab at USA and Celsion Corporation located in Huntsville, Ala., are working together to develop these new drugs. The new drugs will be delivered to the lungs using a novel nanoparticle drug carrier invented at Celsion.

“The long-term goal is to prevent symptoms of severe, drug-resistant asthma and to allow the damaged lung to repair itself,” Dr. Gerthoffer said. “If the project succeeds, physicians may someday have another way to manage difficult asthma cases when standard drug treatment is not effective.”

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