An Official American Thoracic Society Research Statement: Current Challenges Facing Research and Therapeutic Advances in Airway Remodeling
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BACKGROUND: Airway remodeling (AR) is a prominent feature of asthma and other obstructive lung diseases that is minimally affected by current treatments. The goals of this Official American Thoracic Society (ATS) Research Statement are to discuss the scientific, technological, economic, and regulatory issues that deter progress of AR research and development of therapeutics targeting AR and to propose approaches and solutions to these specific problems. This Statement is not intended to provide clinical practice recommendations on any disease in which AR is observed and/or plays a role. METHODS: An international multidisciplinary group from within academia, industry, and the National Institutes of Health, with expertise in multimodal approaches to the study of airway structure and function, pulmonary research and clinical practice in obstructive lung disease, and drug discovery platforms was invited to participate in one internet-based and one face-to-face meeting to address the above-stated goals. Although the majority of the analysis related to AR was in asthma, AR in other diseases was also discussed and considered in the recommendations. A literature search of PubMed was performed to support conclusions. The search was not a systematic review of the evidence. RESULTS: Multiple conceptual, logistical, economic, and regulatory deterrents were identified that limit the performance of AR research and impede accelerated, intensive development of AR-focused therapeutics. Complementary solutions that leverage expertise of academia and industry were proposed to address them. CONCLUSIONS: To date, numerous factors related to the intrinsic difficulty in performing AR research, and economic forces that are disincentives for the pursuit of AR treatments, have thwarted the ability to understand AR pathology and mechanisms and to address it clinically. This ATS Research Statement identifies potential solutions for each of these factors and emphasizes the importance of educating the global research community as to the extent of the problem as a critical first step in developing effective strategies for: (1) increasing the extent and impact of AR research and (2) developing, testing, and ultimately improving drugs targeting AR.
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