Inflammation and repair in respiratory diseases
Researching means answering a question, which must be relevant, innovative and feasible. Identifying that question is, therefore, the most important and difficult part of this process
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – also known as pulmonary emphysema or chronic bronchitis – pulmonary fibrosis, bronchiectasis, and lung cancer, are common and potentially serious respiratory diseases. All of them are the result of interactions between environmental factors and genetic factors through the lifetime. We have very recently proposed the term GETomics to describe this temporal interactions (Agusti, Faner, Lancet Respiratory Medicine 2022)
Our research focuses on the study of those GETomic interactions and their potential translation to clinical practice, with the aim of improving the diagnosis and treatment of patients who suffer these diseases.
To meet these goals, the group uses a multidisciplinary translational research strategy that includes clinical information and knowledge; pulmonary function variables; quantitative thoracic imaging techniques; cellular and molecular analysis of biological samples; and analysis of the composition of exhaled air. This information is ultimately integrated using advanced bioinformatic methods (systems biology, network analysis and artificial intelligence).
We have shown that about 4-12% of young individuals in the general population do not develop their lungs (and likely other organs) correctly, and that this is associated with a higher prevalence, about a decade earlier incidence of comorbid disease, as well as with premature death (Agusti, Faner, Lancet Respiratory Medicine 2017).
These observations open up new possibilities for prevention, early diagnosis and treatment. The group has also found ways of improving the diagnosis of lung cancer based on tumour markers in blood and trained dogs that can be used that identify affected patients by their breath.
Finally, thanks to its research, it has found that an abnormal immune response is a key mechanism in many respiratory diseases.