Dr Kaplan, associate professor of pediatrics and director of Pediatric Pulmonary Basic Research in the Division of Pulmonology, Critical Care and Allergy at the IU School of Medicine said 'The principle aim of this $5 million project focuses on diagnosing the biological markers for asthma and other allergic diseases and thereby identifying the children who are at high risk of developing it'.
The five-year grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease creates one of nine such centers in the U.S. The centers will work in collaboration and their principal investigators make up a steering committee to provide input and serve as a resource for all the AADCRC centers.
'The incidence of allergic diseases is rapidly increasing in the developed world,' said Dr. Kaplan. 'This is commonly seen as asthma, rhinitis and atopic dermatitis (eczema), alone or in combination. While atopic dermatitis is rarely life threatening, affected individuals suffer both physical and emotional discomfort. Moreover, there is a high correlation between eczema in infants and the development of asthma later in life, a disease that can be far more debilitating.'
The researchers' goal is to identify diagnostic biological markers or indicators for these diseases that will help identify which children will be predisposed to developing asthma. 'From this, we hope to develop therapies that will help us be better able to treat current conditions and prevent patients from developing severe disease later in life,' Dr. Kaplan said.
Research at the AADCRC centers will include both basic and clinical research in immunology and pathobiology, and the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of asthma and allergic diseases. The purpose of creating such centers is to accelerate the application of fundamental knowledge of immune function to the investigation, prevention, and treatment of asthma and allergic diseases.