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Leading research to understand, treat, and prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases
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Funded Asthma Research Programs

The pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of asthma are major areas of emphasis for NIAID-targeted research programs.

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Inner-city Asthma Consortium (ICAC)

Over the past two decades, NIAID has supported research programs aimed at developing asthma interventions tailored to children living in inner-city areas. ICAC's nationwide network of clinical researchers and basic scientists conducts clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of promising immune-based therapies designed to reduce asthma severity and prevent disease onset in inner-city children. ICAC augments its clinical trials research with basic and preclinical studies aimed at

  • Understanding the underlying mechanisms of candidate therapies
  • Developing and validating biomarkers to measure disease stage, progression, and therapeutic effect of candidate treatments
  • Assessing how possible genetic and epigenetic (changes in gene expression or observable trait that are not caused by changes in DNA sequence) factors influence disease development, progression, and severity
  • Defining the development and unique mechanisms associated with asthma onset and severity in inner-city children
  • Identifying environmental factors associated with inner-city asthma

Read more about NIAID Programs on Asthma in the Inner City.

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Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Centers (AADCRCs)

The AADCRCs are the cornerstone of NIAID efforts to promote multidisciplinary basic and clinical research focusing on the immunological basis, pathobiology, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of asthma and allergic diseases. The original program, established in 1971, was the first targeted program to promote research in the field of asthma and allergic diseases. Over the years, the centers have conducted groundbreaking research on key aspects of asthma and allergic diseases. These include the central role of immunoglobulin E antibodies in allergy and asthma, the role of eosinophils and mast cells (both types of immune cells that can release histamine) in allergic inflammation, the role of leukotrienes (signaling molecules that trigger contractions in the smooth muscles lining the windpipe), and the importance of indoor allergens and ambient air pollution in asthma.

Current basic and clinical research of the AADCRCs aims to

  • Investigate the role of the immune system in the development, treatment, and prevention of asthma and allergic diseases
  • Determine how infections and immune responses to infections may contribute to the development or worsening of asthma and allergic diseases
  • Describe how various types of immune cells are affected in asthma and allergic diseases
  • Understand the role that pollution and environmental allergens may play in the development and worsening of asthma
  • Examine the immunologic basis of food allergy and development of tolerance to foods

Read more about the AADCRCs.

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Allergen and T-cell Reagent Resources for the Study of Allergic Diseases

In 2005 NIAID sponsored a workshop on the future of immunotherapy for allergic diseases. One of the recommendations of the panel was to "expand chemical characterization of known and novel allergens." As a result, in fiscal year 2007, NIAID awarded two contracts for the identification, development, and validation of T-cell allergen epitopes (parts of allergens that T cells bind to) from a variety of clinically important allergens that are involved in diseases such as asthma, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), and food allergy.

The findings of these research contracts are deposited into the Immune Epitope Database, a comprehensive, publicly available database, and are used to define a set of immunological reagents to be employed by the research community in the study of allergic diseases.

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Immune Tolerance Network (ITN)

Co-sponsored by NIAID and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, the ITN is an international consortium of basic scientists and clinical investigators that performs clinical research to evaluate the safety and efficacy of methods that can induce the immune system to tolerate certain antigens for the treatment of immune-mediated disorders. Studies of immune tolerance in asthma and other allergic diseases are funded by the ITN.

Learn more about the Immune Tolerance Network.

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Last Updated April 18, 2011

Last Reviewed November 19, 2010