Repurposing an FDA approved Drug for Asthma: Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD; and Jocelyn Biagini Myers, PhD

The Adare Drug Repurposing and Optimization Innovation Fund awarded Dr. Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD, and her team to repurpose an FDA-approved drug for an asthma indication. Her laboratory previously identified this drug target as part of a study to understand why some children with asthma respond effectively to asthma medications while others do not. More recently, the laboratory has identified that this new drug target may be effective at treating asthma as a single agent. Based on these findings, they are preparing a pilot trial to test the safety, tolerance and efficacy of this drug in adult asthmatics, with the goal of moving towards a full clinical trial.

Development of Online Genome-wide Ancestry Tool: Tesfaye B. Marsha, PhD

Dr. Tesfaye Mersha, PhD, and his team developed, and made freely available, an online genome-wide ancestry informative markers (AIMs) tool, AncestrySNPminer, the first web- based bioinformatics tool specifically designed to retrieve AIMs from ever growing genomic datasets and link these informative markers to genes and ontological annotation classes [Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Technology Disclosure #: 2011-1105]. The tool includes an automated and simple "scripting at the click of a button" function that enables researchers to retrieve DNA variants between populations with different allele frequency and selection pressure with user-friendly querying and filtering of datasets across various ancestries through a single web interface. This is a timely resource for the population genomics research community. As of June 20, 2017, more than 17,667 registered users from around the world have freely accessed this resource.

Personalized Treatment Algorithms for Difficult-to-Treat Asthma: Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD; Jocelyn Biagini Myers, PhD; Melinda Butsch Kovacic, PhD; and Hong Ji, PhD

The Academic and Research Committee awarded the development of a Bench to Community Asthma Center that brings together faculty across Cincinnati Children's to work together develop personalized treatment algorithms for difficult-to-treat asthma. Asthma is heterogeneous in terms of treatment response and natural history. This heterogeneity contributes to the difficulty in both studying and treating asthma. This project will explore the biologic mechanisms underlying difficult-to-treat patients, which are the most challenging and account for >50% of asthma health care utilization. We will conduct home visits and collect biospecimens to define and quantify known molecular, genetic, genomic, epigenetic, immunologic, and exposure biomarkers along with clinical, psychosocial, and adherence data to develop personalized treatment plans. This study will provide a foundation and framework for the development and implementation of multi-modality treatment strategies specifically designed for difficult-to-treat asthmatics.

Study to Analyze the Expression of a Peripheral Blood Receptor in Healthy Volunteers of Different Age Group: Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD

Novartis selected Dr. Hershey and her team to participate in a non-interventional study to compare the expression of a peripheral blood receptor in children compared to the expression in adults. Novartis engaged in a project to determine the efficacy of a drug that targets this receptor in the treatment of asthma. We enrolled 40 participants (20 children and 20 adults), and collected peripheral blood on these 40 participants for analysis. The findings from this study will help establish the need for a full randomized controlled trial.

New Cohort to Study Atopic Dermatitis in Children: Jocelyn Biagini Myers, PhD; and Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD

As part of their National Institutes of Health funded Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center U19 grant, Drs. Jocelyn Biagini Myers, PhD, and Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD, are recruiting a new cohort of 500 toddlers with eczema. It is the first cohort of children with eczema in the U.S. Fifty percent of these children will develop asthma. Drs. Myers and Hershey will follow these children for five years to determine the factors that promote asthma among children with atopic dermatitis.