Sethi, Russo Receive Funding to Further COPD, Pathogen Research

Published January 26, 2012

Sanjay Sethi, MD, and Thomas A. Russo, MD, professors in the Department of Medicine, have been awarded grants to expand their research.

Studies to Find Better COPD Drugs

“This study combines the use of microbiology and structural biology in an attempt to combat the increasing problem of super-bugs for which effective antimicrobial treatment is limited or non-existent.”
Thomas A. Russo, MD
Professor of medicine, chief of the Division of Infectious Disease

Sethi, chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, has received two grants from the National Institutes of Health for studies he will conduct in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University.

In the first study, funded for $100,000, he will lead a Phase II clinical trial that examines whether the transcription factor Nrf2 enhanced by sulforaphane improves treatment in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“Physicians lack effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant drugs for COPD, and sulforaphane, a compound derived from broccoli sprouts, has the potential to be such a drug,” Sethi explains. “Nrf2 induces various genes to express antioxidant enzymes.”

In an ancillary study funded for $148,000, Sethi and his collaborators will examine sulforaphane treatment in COPD—particularly its effect on lung macrophage function—as a novel intervention strategy to enhance immunity.

Seeking Targets for Drug-Resistant Pathogen

Russo, chief of the Division of Infectious Disease, received a sub-award of $237,000 from Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute (HWI)—funded by the U.S. Department of Defense—to investigate new drug targets for Acinetobacter baumannii, a multidrug- resistant, gram-negative bacterial pathogen that can cause severe pneumonia and infections of the urinary tract, bloodstream and other parts of the body.

“This study combines the use of microbiology and structural biology in an attempt to combat the increasing problem of super-bugs for which effective antimicrobial treatment is limited or non-existent,” says Russo.

He is collaborating with Timothy C. Umland, PhD, L. Wayne Schultz, PhD, and Andrew M. Gulick, PhD, HWI research scientists and assistant professors in the Department of Structural Biology.