Research program: Pathogenesis and treatment of chronic lung diseases
Aim and focus
Chronic lung diseases have an enormous impact on the patient and on society. The aim of our research is to improve patient care and treatment of patients with chronic lung diseases through a better understanding of the pathogenesis of these diseases. To this end we use an integrated approach of basic, translational and clinical research.
Within this integrated research approach on pathogenesis of chronic lung disease we address:
1. mechanisms of chronic inflammation, lung tissue injury and repair
2. role of the lung epithelium
3. impact of interactions between host and micro-organisms on chronic lung diseases
4. lung structure-function relationship
To this end we focus on immune regulation in these diseases, and we are investigating both underlying mechanisms as well as targeted therapeutic interventions using e.g. biologicals such as monoclonal antibodies. We are studying the protective effect of selected micro-organisms against the development of allergies and asthma. The department has a leading position in the surgical treatment of emphysema, which enables the research laboratory to use emphysematous tissue for pathogenetic and therapeutic research purposes. This focus in care and research also enables us to perform basic and translational research into lung tissue repair through mesenchymal stromal cells, endogenous stem cells and growth factors. Lung structure-function research is performed in the genetic disorder alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency (AATD). Our research on pollen and hay fever is focussed on pollen monitoring and hay fever prediction (see public information provided by our Pollen Information Service ; in Dutch only).
In the past years we have also extended research on lung cancer (focussed on tumour immunology and immunotherapy), as wells as interstitial and vascular lung diseases, with a specific focus on systemic sclerosis (SSc). Other recent developments are focussed on the substantial comorbidities that accompany chronic lung disease: association between COPD and obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease, and the association between asthma and obesity.
Position in international context
The department has various international research collaborations that have resulted in a large number of joint publications and grants. Members of the department are active in various international scientific organisations, including the European Respiratory Society (Assembly head, congress chair). The Department also frequently hosts visiting laboratory scientists from various countries. The NFU-certified national expert centre for alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) of the Department of Pulmonology is embedded as a core group in the European Reference Network Lung (ERN LUNG) which started in April 2017.
Cohesion within LUMC
The department has various research collaborations within the LUMC, including those within the HeartLung Center Leiden (Cardiology, Thoracic Surgery), and with the Department of Parasitology, Medical Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Endocrinology, Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion, Rheumatology, Radiology, Clinical Epidemiology, Medical Decision Making, Public Health and Primary Care, and the Center for Proteomics and Metabolomics.