Close Menu

Professors, students, to investigate medication-resistant asthma

Oct 3, 2023
2 min Read
Eugene Curtin
Yaping Tu

“Refractory” asthma, which is asthma that does not respond to current medical treatment, is the subject of a Creighton University research project funded by a recent grant from the National Institutes of Health. 

The recipient is Yaping Tu, PhD, professor of pharmacology and neuroscience in the Creighton University School of Medicine. The $1.7 million grant, titled “A Novel Approach to Target Neutrophilic Airway Inflammation and Airway Hyperresponsiveness in Therapy-Resistant (Refractory) Asthma,” will be utilized by Tu and a team of researchers consisting of Creighton experts as well as undergraduate, medical and graduate students. 

The grant asks Tu and his team to determine the mechanisms by which a key protein modulates the components of asthma and whether that protein can be inhibited, thus ameliorating the airway inflammation and hypercontraction that are the hallmarks of human refractory asthma. 

The award reflects Tu’s standing in the field of asthma research, which has seen his work funded not only by multiple National Institutes of Health awards but also by the American Asthma Foundation and the State of Nebraska.   

The long-term objective of Tu’s research is to understand the molecular mechanisms of therapeutic resistance and to develop new strategies to overcome such resistance in refractory asthma.  

A vast unmet need exists for treating these patients.
— Yaping Tu, PhD

“A vast unmet need exists for treating these patients, which has sparked renewed interest in understanding therapeutic resistance in asthma,” Tu says. 

“In the past four years, we have been collaborating with Peter Abel, PhD, an expert in integrative and organ systems; Gopal Jadhav, PhD, a medicinal chemist, in Creighton’s Departments of Pharmacology and Neuroscience; Reynold Panettieri, MD, and Steven An, PhD, eminent scientists in airway physiology and asthma from Rutgers University; Thomas Casale, MD, a renowned expert in allergic respiratory diseases from the University of South Florida; and Chris Destache, PharmD, an expert in drug delivery at Creighton’s School of Pharmacy and Health Professions.”  

In addition, Tu says, students have played and will continue to play an important role in his research projects.  

During the past four years, he says, graduate students, undergraduate students and postdoctoral fellows have maintained Creighton’s long-standing history of involving students in research projects. Two PhD students, Tianzhou Xing and Daniel Afolabi, are involved in the current project, along with research associate, Venkatlaxmi Chettiar.   

And there is room for undergraduates to begin acquiring research skills as well.   

“We would like to recruit more undergraduate students for these studies,” Tu says.