Pathogenesis and treatment of chronic lung diseases

The research within our LUMC departments is conducted within departmental research programmes. The research programme below is embedded within the department of Pulmonology.

Aim and focus

Chronic lung diseases have an enormous impact on the patient and on society. Both world-wide and in the Netherlands, these diseases have a high prevalence and a further increase is expected. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and respiratory infections collectively form the major cause of death world-wide according to WHO data. In addition, asthma is the most frequent chronic disease in children. 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. 

In addition to following a disease-oriented approach, we also address the following overarching themes: 

  • mechanisms of chronic inflammation, lung tissue injury and repair
  • role of the lung epithelium
  • impact of interactions between host and micro-organisms on chronic lung diseases
  • lung structure-function relationship 

Our research on asthma and COPD/emphysema focuses on immune regulation in these diseases, and we are investigating both underlying mechanisms as well as targeted therapeutic interventions using e.g. biological such as monoclonal antibodies. We are studying both the effect of bacterial and viral respiratory infections on exacerbations and disease progression, as well as the protective effect of selected micro-organisms against the development of allergies. 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 lung cancer is focussed on tumour immunology and immunotherapy. Structure-function relations are central in our research on interstitial and vascular lung diseases, with a specific focus on systemic sclerosis (SSc). Because many chronic lung diseases are characterized by substantial comorbidity, we investigate the association between COPD and obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease, and the association between asthma and obesity.

Cohesion within LUMC

The department has various research collaborations within the LUMC, including those with the Department of Parasitology, Clinical Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Endocrinology, Immunology, Rheumatology, Cardiology, Thoracic Surgery, Radiology, Clinical Epidemiology, Medical Decision Making, and Public Health and Primary Care.