David Feola, a University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy faculty member in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue his research investigating immune responses in the lungs that will potentially lead to the discovery of medical treatments for patients with cystic fibrosis and other chronic pulmonary inflammatory conditions.
Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening disease that causes mucus in the lungs to become too thick, which leads to severe pulmonary complications. This disease is one of the most common chronic lung diseases in children and young adults, affecting 30,000 children and adults in the United States and nearly 70,000 people worldwide, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Feola's research lab focuses on the regulatory function of macrophages, an immune cell type that kills invading pathogens and controls inflammation, in patients with chronic pulmonary inflammatory diseases. Cystic fibrosis causes progressive, life-threatening lung damage due in large part to repeated, dysregulated inflammatory responses to bacterial infection. Preliminary research in Feola's lab suggests that inducing specific types of macrophage activation could blunt this dysregulated inflammation. This research will lead to discovery of specific drug targets that could slow or halt this destructive cycle of inflammatory injury and pulmonary function decline in these patients.