UF College of Medicine researchers to be involved in nationwide asthma studies

Two University of Florida College of Medicine faculty members have been awarded about $100,000 to participate in several nationwide studies aimed at better understanding and treating asthma.

Two of the studies will focus on testing new treatments for acute asthma attacks. Three other investigations will involve gathering in-depth information about asthma patients and the nature of their conditions. All five studies will involve people who seek emergency treatment for asthma attacks at Shands at UF medical center in Gainesville. Several sites across the nation are also participating in the studies.

Through ClinTrials Research, based in Cary, N.C., pharmaceutical company Pharmadigm Inc. awarded $48,000 to Dr. Ahamed H. Idris to help test a new anti-inflammatory agent, called DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone. Idris is a professor in the College of Medicine’s departments of emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and medicine, and director of emergency medicine research.

Also through ClinTrials Research, drug company Sepracor Inc. awarded Idris $45,000 to test an alternate form of the common inhaled asthma drug, albuterol. The alternate, called levalbuterol, will be tested in metered dose inhalers, the method patients generally use at home for maintenance.

The Harvard-based Multicenter Airway Research Collaboration selected Idris and Dr. Bruce Goldfeder, an assistant professor of emergency medicine, to participate in three studies of people with asthma – children, adults, and older adults who also have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Participants in these studies will be interviewed extensively about their asthma to help researchers better understand the disease characteristics.

The studies will be conducted early this year, and the research will be coordinated by Kathryn Rosemeier, research coordinator for the department of emergency medicine.