In partnership with the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, scientists at the University of Manchester and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will be working together to investigate how the biological clock controls inflammation in lung diseases, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
It is hoped that the £500,000 study, which will be funded by GSK, will lead to the development of new drugs that will target how the internal body clock regulates the severity of inflammation. The team at the University of Manchester will be headed up by Professors Andrew Loudon, David Ray and Kath Else. This team will work closely with colleagues in the Discovery Biology group at GSK.
Speaking of the collaboration, Professor Loudon or the faculty of life sciences, stated:
“Many inflammatory diseases are highly rhythmic in presentation and often worse at night. We believe there is also a strong rhythmic control. It has long been speculated that asthma and other inflammatory conditions have an underlying clock mechanism controlling the severity of the disease. These clocks are all over the body, including in cells responsible for the immune response in the lung. In addition the way we metabolise drugs is highly rhythmic. Our aim is to gain a sufficient understanding of this process so we can target key parts with specific new drugs.
“We are working with GSK not only to develop new drugs to alleviate symptoms but also reveal optimal timing of therapy, known as chronotherapy. This is a new and exciting area of research. It is being taken very seriously in France, for example, where researchers have for some time been studying the importance of timing of chemotherapy in cancer. This study is just one at the beginning of an exciting new phase in circadian rhythm research.”
Inflammatory diseases of the lung are a major cause of mortality world-wide. In the case of COPD, the progression of this inflammatory disease is irreversible once commenced. In the UK 27,478 people died as a result of COPD in 2004. Other diseases with an inflammatory aspect include asthma, which is a predisposition to chronic inflammation of the lungs in which the airways are reversibly narrowed.