Chris Carlsten lab

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This week we profile a recent publication in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology from Hang (Hannah)
Li (pictured below) in the laboratory of Dr. Chris Carlsten (pictured above, second from left) at UBC.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?Hannah Li

My lab is hopeful to demonstrate how integrating genomics to our understanding of the effects of exogenous inhalants on the human airway can have meaningful translational impact in a public health context. Part of that impact can be demonstrating mechanisms that increase the plausibility of observations that might otherwise have more tenuous credibility.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

Our recent paper in JACI fit this framework. That epigenetic phenomena could demonstrably affect lung function in a human model of acute exposure has generally been viewed as likely to occur more on a sub-clinical molecular level than as clearly observable by standard physiologic measures. In this paper we show that differences in key DNA methylation regulation enzymes are associated with changes in airflow due to inhalation of common allergens, particularly in those with airway hyperresponsiveness. It was surprising even to me that we should show such impact of such enzymatic variation on lung function, in vivo, in humans. This suggests that fundamental regulators of epigenetics can have more clear functional impact in the context of a strong stimulus in a susceptible host.

What are the next steps for this research?

Future steps include validation of these findings and exploration of interventions that might realistically harness the influence of these enzymes.

This work was funded by:

We are grateful to CIHR, WorkSafeBC, AllerGen NCE, and others who supported our work.

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