Georgia CTSA-supported Finding in NEJM Challenges Asthma Common Practice

Researchers from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute AsthmaNet recently published a study in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) entitled “Quintupling Inhaled Glucocorticoids to Prevent Childhood Asthma Exacerbations.” This study found that short-term increases in inhaled steroid doses do not prevent asthma flare-ups in children. The NHLBI believes the “findings challenge common practice of increasing doses at early signs of worsening symptoms.”

The clinical trials enrolled children 5 to 11 years of age who were diagnosed with asthma and a history of at least one asthma exacerbation treated with systemic glucocorticoids in the previous year. The study was conducted at 17 trial sites in the United States. The Pediatric Clinical Research Unit at Egleston, supported by the Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance (Georgia CTSA), was one of the sites where the randomized, double-blind, parallel group trial was conducted.

Before the study, a common medical practice involving children with mild-to-moderate asthma was to increase doses of inhaled steroids during respiratory illnesses. The study concluded that temporarily increasing the dosage of inhaled steroids when asthma symptoms begin to worsen does not effectively prevent severe flare-ups, and may be associated with slowing a child’s growth.

Co-Author Anne Fitzpatrick, PhD, RN, CPNP, is a Georgia CTSA Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR) graduate. Fitzpatrick is currently associate professor of the Department of Pediatrics and director of Asthma Clinical Research Program, Division of Pulmonology, Allergy/Immunology, Cystic Fibrosis and Sleep, Emory University Department of Pediatrics. Fitzpatrick’s contributions in the study of pediatric asthma include over 90 publications in the field of asthma. She was also a part of another Georgia CTSA-supported study which assessed the impact of acetaminophen use on children’s asthma. She is funded by a variety of NIH grants and continues to serve as the principal investigator in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s AsthmaNet Clinical Trials Network and Severe Asthma Research Program.

Fitzpatrick believes, “The Georgia CTSA and associated resources make complex multi-center studies like this one possible. Ultimately, we believe the results from this study will be used to revise national treatment guidelines for children with asthma and improve management of acute asthma exacerbations.”

The Pediatric Clinical Research Unit at Egleston is designed to provide the necessary infrastructure for investigators conducting pediatric clinical research and is a pediatric clinical interaction research site of Georgia CTSA. The center improves the ability of pediatric researchers to perform innovative research while providing patients and their families with increased access to leading-edge clinical trials. The Emory Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR) degree program, in the Laney Graduate School at Emory University, provides innovative didactic and mentored research training to those interested in pursuing a career in clinical and/or translational research. The MSCR degree is designed for predoctoral (medical students, PhD students or PharmD students), postdoctoral trainees (resident and fellow physicians or PhD postdocs), and junior faculty (physicians, PhD-level scientists or PharmDs) from Emory University (Emory), Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and the University of Georgia (UGA).

The Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance (Georgia CTSA) is an inter-institutional magnet that concentrates basic, translational, and clinical research investigators, community clinicians, professional societies, and industry collaborators in dynamic clinical and translational research projects. Emory engaged three of its close academic partners – MSM, Georgia Tech, and UGA – to form the Georgia CTSA. This partnership, a strategic multi-institutional alliance, offers compelling, unique, and synergistic advantages to research and patients statewide.

Georgia CTSA is one of nearly 60 in a national consortium striving to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. The consortium, funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards, shares a common vision to translate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, engage communities in clinical research efforts, and train the next generation of clinical investigators.

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