Gregg Duncan, Ph.D.

Gregg Duncan, Ph.D.

Institution: University of Maryland-College Park

Project: A New Way to Monitor Mucus in Obstructive Lung Diseases

Grant(s): Innovation Award

Obstructive lung diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affect millions of people worldwide. People with these diseases suffer from a steady decline in lung function and recurrent worsening of symptoms. Abnormalities in the mucus produced by people with these diseases have been identified as a key contributor to progression and extent of disease. There has been little innovation in diagnostics available to assess these patients. We will use nanotechnology in the design of a novel diagnostic tool to monitor physical changes in mucus associated with the progression of disease. This research may offer a new, highly valuable tool to analyze patients with obstructive lung disease and could potentially improve their outcomes.


Using nanotechnology, we have designed and validated a simple, high-throughput assay enabling us to evaluate the physical properties of mucus from the lungs of patients with chronic lung disease. Through our ongoing studies, we will determine if these measurements are sensitive to the extent of lung disease in patients with COPD and cystic fibrosis. If successful, our new measurement scheme will enable clinicians to quantitatively monitor the properties of airway mucus and examine how it relates to disease progression and/or the effectiveness of treatment.

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