America's 26 million asthmatics may be able to breathe a sigh of relief, thanks to Dr. Sailaja Paruchuri, a University of Akron researcher who has received a $1.9 million Research Project Grant (R01) from the National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH-NIAID).
The research project seeks to understand how asthma symptoms and other inflammatory conditions are aggravated by examining the link between two lipid mediators formed from fatty acids.
Paruchuri hopes that uncovering the mechanisms of this process will lead to new discoveries for the research and treatment of common respiratory disorders and allergies. Currently, a leukotriene receptor blocker alone is in use for treatment of asthma and similar ailments, branded as Singulair® from Merck.
"But it is not as potent as steroids," remarks Paruchuri, the James L. & Martha J. Foght Associate Professor in our Department of Chemistry. "My team proposes that a combination of a leukotriene blocker along with a prostaglandin blocker can be a better treatment."
The Research Project Grant (R01) is the original and historically oldest grant mechanism used by NIH. Paruchuri, one of only a dozen recipients of this grant at UA, has dedicated herself to research on these bio-lipids since her doctorate studies in Sweden, and is pleased to put the grant to use with her colleague and co-investigator, Dr. Adam Smith, an associate professor in chemistry.
"This is a very exciting time, as we have recently published our work in a prestigious journal, Proceeding of National Academy of Sciences, and succeeded in securing this significant R01 grant from NIH, which is a gold standard in health science research," Paruchuri says.
The R01 grant will also help train graduate students to become future scientists and continue to build UA's reputation as a place of research and discovery.
Working with these future scientists to help secure this funding is what Paruchuri says she finds so meaningful.
"I want to take this opportunity to thank my past and present post-docs, graduate students and undergrad students for all their hard work, enthusiasm, and perseverance," she notes.
Paruchuri's five-year R01 grant from NIH-NIAID is titled "Integration of leukotriene and prostaglandin receptor signaling in mast cell activation and pulmonary inflammation during asthma."