Yaping Tu, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology at Creighton University School of Medicine, has received a $450,000 Early Excellence Award from the American Asthma Foundation.
Tu was one of only 11 researchers out of 381 applications to receive 2011 funding from the foundation. The awards are made to investigators not previously involved in asthma research who are pursuing highly innovative, cutting-edge research to bring new understanding to and treatments for diseases of the lung.
Yaping will use the three-year grant to study the prevention of airway narrowing that occurs with asthma.
One of the most important drug therapies in treating asthma is the use of beta agonists, which open the airway by binding to proteins called “Beta2-receptors, found on the surface of airway muscle cells, thereby causing the muscles to relax.
However, other members of this receptor family have the opposite effect, causing airway muscles to contract instead of relax, Tu said. There is a certain protein that normally blocks the activity of these receptors, preventing the contractions of airway muscles.
Tu previously has found evidence that these protective proteins may be reduced in asthma, thereby allowing airway muscle cells to contract excessively. He will test the hypothesis that this is a cause of asthma which, if true, could provide a new pathway for the development of new therapies.
The American Asthma Foundation is the only national advocacy group devoted solely to asthma, a chronic condition affecting 23 million Americans. AAF’s mission is to improve treatment, prevent, and find a cure for the disease.
To learn more about Tu’s research, click here.