Breathing life into a new asthma treatment

Breathing life into a new asthma treatment

Illuminate newsletter index page, December 2019
December 2019

Asthma researcher, Dr Christine Keenan, receiving the Research
Australia Griffith University Discovery Award.

A potential new treatment approach for asthma has seen early-career researcher Dr Christine Keenan win the 2019 Research Australia Griffith University Discovery Award.

The award follows a preclinical study led by Dr Keenan that showed an anti-cancer drug could ‘switch off’ and reverse the uncontrolled inflammation responsible for driving and exacerbating asthma.

Emerging leader

Dr Keenan, who has been researching asthma for many years, said the findings could improve the future of asthma treatment.

“It’s staggering how little progress has been made since the 70s, when steroids and Ventolin became standard therapy,” she said. 

“New treatments are urgently needed. The potential new approach we’ve discovered is very exciting – I’ve never before seen a treatment wipe out signs of an allergic immune response like this.”

She said there had been significant public interest in the research.

“It’s been immensely exciting to publish our findings after many years of dedicated research and gratifying to experience the level of interest the study has received. I’m grateful to Research Australia and Griffith University for acknowledging our work.”

Research Australia CEO Nadia Leven said the discovery could provide the first targeted treatment for the root cause of asthma.

“Dr Keenan’s leadership in this area is particularly remarkable for someone so early on in their career.”

Dr Keenan and her colleagues are now looking to partner with industry and establish clinical trials to test the new approach and potentially bring hope to millions of asthma sufferers.

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Researchers have found a potential new treatment for asthma that works by targeting the cause of the disease, rather than just masking its symptoms.

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