UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page UBC Home Page -
News Events Directories Search UBC myUBC Login
- -
UBC Public Affairs
UBC Reports
UBC Reports Extras
Goal / Circulation / Deadlines
Letters to the Editor & Opinion Pieces / Feedback
UBC Reports Archives
Media Releases
Services for Media
Services for the Community
Services for UBC Faculty & Staff
Find UBC Experts
Search Site

UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 04 | Feb. 22, 2001

Research funding aims to help patients breathe easier

Study to probe how emphysema starts

by Hilary Thomson staff writer

UBC pulmonary researcher Dr. James Hogg has received $1.26 million over four years from the U.S. funding agency the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to pursue his research on the causes of emphysema.

"This support provides operating funds that will allow us to hire new scientists and graduate students to continue this work, " says Hogg, who is a senior scientist at the UBC McDonald Research Laboratory at St. Paul's Hospital.

The goal of Hogg's research is to understand how emphysema works at the molecular level.

"Everyone who smokes gets lung inflammation," says Hogg, a professor emeritus of Pathology who has been studying emphysema for 30 years. "But only 15-20 per cent of smokers get emphysema. We want to understand the mechanism of how inflammation develops into disease."

He and his team are looking at latent viral infections and how they may amplify the lung irritation caused by cigarette smoking.

Viral genes persist in lung cells over time and these latent adenoviruses are suspected to combine with irritated tissue cells to produce disease.

He will also study why emphysema is resistant to treatment by steroids.

"Steroids are effective in managing asthma but not emphysema," he says. "By studying the mechanism of steroid resistance we hope to find features of the inflammatory response that will respond to other treatments."

There is no prevention or cure for emphysema. It can be controlled through antibiotics and oxygen therapy if detected in the early stages. Bronchial dilating medicine may be used to treat the asthma that can co-exist with the disease.

Emphysema, a name which comes from the Greek word to inflate, is characterized by enlarged lungs and irritated or infected bronchial tubes that connect the windpipe with the lungs.

When the bronchial tubes become irritated, some of the airways get obstructed and lung function reduces. In addition, the stretching and destruction of the walls of the tiny air spaces at the ends of the bronchial tubes lead to the characteristic enlargement of the lungs.

Emphysema, in combination with chronic bronchitis, is the most common form of chronic obstructive lung disease which is the fifth most common cause of death in North America. More than 1,100 people die of emphysema annually.

Hogg received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation for equipment to conduct his current investigations as part of the iCAPTURE project at St. Paul's Hospital that is looking for new solutions for cardiac, pulmonary and blood vessel diseases.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

to top | UBC.ca » UBC Public Affairs

UBC Public Affairs
310 - 6251 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
tel 604.822.3131 | fax 604.822.2684 | e-mail public.affairs@ubc.ca

© Copyright The University of British Columbia, all rights reserved.