Patients with chronic airway diseases such as asthma or COPD may suffer from abnormally high levels of mucus and chronic productive cough. This condition poses an increased risk for airway infection, decline in lung function and hospitalization. Airway plugging by excess mucus can be fatal if left uncontrolled. Exposure to cigarette smoke is strongly associated with chronic airway diseases like COPD and asthma. We will study the link between cigarette smoke exposure and excess mucus. Our studies have identified the pathways responsible for increased mucus production. We will target this pathway using a small molecule that can help reduce production of mucus.
Update: We ran a pilot experiment of cigarette smoke exposure, targeting the pathway using a small molecule to help reduce mucus production. Our studies have helped us develop a model that requires shorter exposure time to cigarette smoke to simulate disease conditions. We are currently analyzing these pathways and the effectiveness of small molecule inhibitors.