Asthma, depression and microbiomes to be studied in new Alberta lab

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Asthma, depression and microbiomes to be studied in new Alberta lab

Paul Forsythe, center, will lead this new lab at the University of Alberta.

A new laboratory at the University of Alberta will study the link between microbiota, for example bacteria found in the stomach and lungs, and inflammatory diseases or depression.

Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta Paul Forsythe was named Monday to head the Research Chair in Asthma and Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a chair founded by AstraZeneca Canada Inc.

The pharmaceutical company's investment will help hire postdocs and bachelor's graduates in addition to purchasing equipment to establish a world-class research team, according to a statement from the University.

AstraZeneca Canada President Kiersten Combs is delighted with this partnership with the University of Alberta. I believe that this research on the connection between lung health and mental health is going to be very important in the future.

Paul Forsythe agrees and believes that this track deserves to be thorough. This idea of ​​a connection between the lungs and the brain […] is really undervalued.

Paul Forsythe therefore thinks that there is a vicious circle between these two bodies. For example, psychological stress can make asthma symptoms worse, and in turn, people with asthma are more likely to develop psychological stress.

The purpose of our laboratory is to break this vicious cycle between the body and the brain, concludes Forsythe.

Microbiomes can be altered during childhood for multiple reasons, says Paul Forsythe. An alteration of these can do the same to messages sent to the brain through the neural pathways of organs. This can then lead to the development of inflammatory diseases or depression, he says.

We know that microbiomes in childhood are a key determinant of long-term health, but we don't really understand this process, says Paul Forsythe.

Part of the team's research led by Paul Forsythe will be to understand how the brain controls inflammation in the lungs and the link between lung disease and mood disorders such as anxiety or depression.

We need to learn more [about this] if we really want to be able to do therapeutic interventions. This is the purpose of this laboratory, he added.

The assistant professor hopes to develop new methods to treat these ailments, including the electrical stimulation of certain nerves to change the messages sent to the brain.

With information from Craig Ryan

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