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NIH awards VBI, Mayo Clinic $2.4M to study chronic rhinosinusitis

Blacksburg, Va. Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and Virginia Tech biological sciences associate professor Chris Lawrence is teaming up with Mayo Clinic on a $2.4 million project funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The work could help researchers develop treatments, diagnostic tools, and preventative measures for patients suffering from chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS).

CRS is a debilitating chronic airway disease that results in up to 1822 million clinical cases per year and at least 30 million courses of antibiotic treatment (National Center for Health Statistics). CRS can produce inflammation of the lining of the nasal sinus. In some cases, this is followed by thickening of sinus mucosa and the formation of polyps or growths in the nasal cavity. Even with aggressive medical and surgical therapies, a significant number of patients with CRS have persistent or recurrent problems associated with the disease. The goal of the five-year project, entitled "The Pathogenesis of Chronic Rhinosinusitis," is to positively impact treatment, clinical decisions, and medical care costs involving CRS, as well as develop a better understanding of the mechanisms of the disease.

Dr. Chris Lawrence, associate professor at VBI, stated: "Several years ago researchers at Mayo, including clinical assistant professor Jens Ponikau, who is now at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and Hirohito Kita, professor of Immunology and the director of the Allergic Diseases Laboratory at Mayo, discovered that lymphocytes including T-cells from a significant percentage of CRS patients have an overzealous inflammatory immune response to antigens derived from common airborne fungi. The most exaggerated and statistically significant response by far was to Alternaria alternata antigens. Our research group along with VBI professor Brett Tyler has been sequencing the Alternaria brassicicola genome in collaboratio
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Contact: Barry Whyte
whyte@vbi.vt.edu
540-231-1767
Virginia Tech
8-May-2007


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