UAHS Receives $27 Million to Fight Child Asthma

The University of Arizona Health Sciences (UAHS) is thrilled to announce it will receive $37 million in federal grant funds to spearhead a national clinical study to prevent and/or cure child asthma. The clinical study will be a culmination of three decades of child asthma prevention research conducted by the UAHS’s Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center.

The study will center around a thousand high-risk asthma babies between the ages of 6 and 18 months. Each participant will be administered either a bacterial extract thought to contain preventive disease qualities or a placebo solution over the next two years. After the trial period, researchers will determine which group expressed fewer asthma symptoms. According to the UA, the study is titled “Oral Bacterial Extracts (ORBEX): Primary Prevention of Asthma and Wheezing in Children.”

Dr. Fernando Martinez, the project’s lead researcher, explains the study’s optimistic potential, stating, “Following these children during the preschool years will further enhance our understanding of the disease, provide additional precision approaches to therapy and lead to optimal prevention strategies and—hopefully—a cure.”

Martinez and Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center team conceived of the clinical study out of a working theory that environmental factors greatly contributed to the severity of asthma. After combing through years of case studies, the team discovered that young children exposed to environment bacteria at early ages developed stronger immune systems, which enabled them to more effectively fight off impending asthma symptoms.

If the clinical study’s results support Martinez’s theory the rate of child asthma could greatly decline. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 8.6% of children in the United States were diagnosed with asthma, which translates into 6.3 million cases.

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