Creighton researchers looking at new therapy for drug-resistant asthma

It affects 2 million Americans and 25 million people worldwide.
Creighton University researchers are using a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study potential new treatments and therapies for drug-resistant ast
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 10:40 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Dr. Yaping Tu’s original focus was on cancer, but for the past ten years, he’s been working to help people with asthma.

“It’s kind of really by accident,” he said.

Animals he was using for cancer research presented with asthma. From there, it started with $70,000 of seed money from the university. Since then, faith in his work has multiplied, earning more than $3 million in grant money. The latest infusion is a $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help two million Americans and 25 million people worldwide with severe, drug-resistant asthma.

“We get really excited, and I guess the NIH got excited too, so they continue to fund our research,” said Tu.

This four-year grant happening right here in Omaha hopes to better understand people with asthma where traditional therapies like inhalers don’t work.

“Those patients usually have to go to the hospital.”

The first part of the study is about understanding what’s different inside the genetic makeup of people with drug-resistant asthma compared to those without.

“I am doing an RNA/DNA-based isolation which will tell us what is different in the asthma patient compared to the other normal people,” said Venkatlaxmi Chettiar, a research associate for the lab.

Tu’s team includes graduate students, research associates, and room for undergraduate students.

The next step is testing a drug in animals that Tu says is promising.

“We want to look for some kind of new drugs which can either treat the patients and it’ll lower the cost but also save the patient’s life.”

He said they’re on the path to see if a therapy already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for pulmonary fibrosis can be used for this purpose.

“Hopefully the drugs can moved to the next step,” said Tu.

The next step would be clinical trials in patients after this study concludes. Tu said he feels confident this work will help add to the options doctors have to treat people with asthma.