20th Anniversary Highlights - Institute for Respiratory Health

20th Anniversary Highlights

Monday, December 02, 2019 | News

Celebrating 20 years of respiratory research

The Symposium, The Next 20 Years, was jammed packed with 17 presentations from respiratory scientists and clinicians from across Western Australia’s universities and research Institutes together with nationally and internationally renowned experts in the field of lung disease.

With over 140 delegates, the Symposium also provided early and mid-career researchers the opportunity to showcase their research through poster displays and gave them the opportunity to connect with leaders in their field. Two poster prizes were awarded for the best high-quality respiratory research poster. Collectively sessions showcased research in the field of omics and the emerging targets and therapies in lung disease.

Following the Symposium, Professor Gary Anderson, a world-renowned leader for his work in lung health presented the Philip Thompson Oration. Professor Gary Anderson described the long arc of research spanning around 140 years that has led to continually better medicines for asthma. He described how he and his colleagues have exploited a small protein called ‘lipocalin’ which has a structure like a basket with four handles. These handles can be made sticky using ingenious genetic engineering methods which then render disease causing proteins inactive.

Because lipocalins are important in the lung, Professor Anderson and his team realised that they could generate such sticky proteins (anticalins) which, after delivery by inhalation, would act on various cells known to play a role in the distinct forms (endotypes) of asthma. Working with
colleagues at Pieris, a German/US biotechnology company, they have successfully advanced the first inhaled anticalin with therapeutic potential through various safety studies, and its efficacy in humans is now about to be determined.

Professor Anderson’s talk illustrated the importance of basic science – even if an idea might initially seem obscure. It is this approach that underpins innovation.