Since our last post in 2019, clinical research studies were disrupted greatly by the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic. Up until early 2020, our ongoing microbiome-focused asthma research studies at the University of Michigan (CAARS and MICROMAAP) had enrolled approximately 170 and 55 patients, respectively. After a necessary pause for almost six months, we are now up and running again.
Our vision in building these cohorts of individuals with or without asthma remains the same – to pursue new hypotheses about what differences in biology (e.g. microbiome-immune system interactions) underlie why asthma presents or behaves differently between individuals. We continue to apply state-of-the-art research methods to investigate this fundamental question. We are pursuing parallel strategies to understand the heterogeneity of COPD through our collaborations with the NIH SPIROMICS network.
We are very grateful to all those who have participated, in the past or recently, in our CAARS or MICROMAAP studies at the University of Michigan. We continue to seek participants, especially for MICROMAAP- our 1-year along
It also takes time to build patient cohorts for research and to collect and generate data for analysis, the latter considerable for the types of methods we apply. I would like to highlight the dedicated efforts of the following members of my lab who spearhead this work: Nicole Schafer, Molly Cook, Lesa Begley, Jane Zhao and Dr. Ariangela Kozik,. Our focus has been on determining how differences between individuals in their microbiomes (airway and gut) impact clinical and biological features of asthma or allergy and the potential mechanisms by which this occurs. To tackle this requires a multi-pronged approach, in both laboratory and computational methods, supported by an inter-disciplinary team. Early results from some of this work have been presented to the scientific community. We are still actively recruiting and growing the CAARS and MICROMAAP cohorts and look forward to sharing updates as we push onward.
Yvonne Huang, MD