Darryl J Adamko
Medicine & Dentistry-Pediatrics
University of Alberta
Summary of research:
During an asthma attack patients develop severe shortness of breath and cough because their airways become inflamed and obstructed. The most common trigger of asthma attacks is infection by common airway viruses. While the importance of virus infection in asthma exacerbation is clear, the reason why airway viruses cause simple common cold-like symptoms in healthy people, but life-threatening events for people with asthma is not understood. The development of severe airway obstruction is strongly associated with airway inflammation, usually a unique mix of cells characteristic of an allergic or atopic background. One of the key inflammatory cells in the airways of patients with asthma is the eosinophil. Virus infection causes airway eosinophilia and obstruction in patients with allergic asthma. In contrast, in non-atopic patients, it causes only mild lower airway narrowing and inflammation without eosinophilia. Thus, the difference in patients with asthma is likely in the baseline amount and type of inflammatory effector cells, including eosinophils in the airways before virus infection. Given this data, my research has been primarily focused on the role of eosinophils and virus infection in the development of asthma attacks. Over the past 5 years though, with my increased knowledge of eosinophils and my expertise in Pediatric Pulmonology, I have broadened my research to include work in the fields of biomarkers of asthma, development of asthma from infancy, eosinophil mediator release, and improved management of pediatric lung disorders.