University of Kansas Medical Center Becomes Hub for American Lung Association Research COVID-19-based Studies

University of Kansas Medical Center Becomes Hub for American Lung Association Research COVID-19-based Studies

The American Lung Association’s research arm known as Airways Clinical Research Centers (ACRC) now supports a study investigating optimal therapies and treatments for those with preexisting respiratory conditions who also become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19. Traditionally a partner to this consortium, the University of Kansas Medical Center recently expanded its status in the ACRC to consortium hub: the Kansas City KS-based academic medical center will now lead the charge, with Mario Castro, MD, MPH, division chief of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine serving as Principal Investigator.

Valuable Contributors to Pulmonary Research Field

As it turns out, ACRC turns out to be the nation’s largest not-for-profit network of trial site organizations emphasizing lung disease. In fact, members specialize in advance asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Castro recently noted in a University of Kansas Medical Center (KU Medical Center) press release, “The network has answered some of the most important clinical questions we need to manage our patients with asthma, COPD and chronic cough. Now we are leveraging this expertise to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.” He emphasized that, “The ACRC Network is an incredibly valuable resource in pulmonary research.” This positive update was incorporated in an article written by Anne Christiansen-Bullers writing for KU Medical Center News.

COVID-19 Action Initiative

Now KU Medical Center represents one of nine hub leads for the ACRC’s COVID-19 Action Initiative, a $25 million program launched by the American Lung Association. Called the COVID-19 Action Initiative, the program goals include the following:

·         Expand respiratory research

·         Fund grants for COVID-19 vaccine and other prevention measures

·         Provide additional grants for research targeting the impact COVID-19 on patients with chronic lung disease

·         Enhance key public health measures via education and advocacy

Millennial Lung Health Cohort Study

A major ACRC initiative, the Lung Health Cohort Study of millennials (ages 25-35 years old) examines the effect of environmental exposures on respiratory health in young people. The study was made possible by a $24.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Clinical Trial for those with Asthma

In this study, the team seeks to prove the hypothesis that the introduction of telehealth into the episode of care can reduce the incidents of asthma attacks and as Dr. Castro noted “…ead to better adherence.”

Anne Christiansen-Bullers reports that In this innovative study, KU Medical Center partners with Children’s Mercy Kansas City for a clinical trial led by ACRC. Called the “Improving Medication Adherence with Telehealthcare Medication Therapy Management to Change Health Outcomes in Adolescents and Young Adults with Asthma” (MATCH), this NIH funded study involves 300 participating adolescents ages 14 to 30 who have a challenging time controlling their asthma.

High Tech Decentralized Study

All participants in this telehealth-enabled study will receive sensors that attach to their corticosteroid inhalers and a software application for their smartphone or computer.

So when an asthma patient (and study participant) takes his or her medication, the sensors actually relay information to the software so the clinical trial participant and the trial administrator can review it. With that data, both can see how well the participant is adhering to the plan.

With advanced support for those that need extra care, the study also plans video consultations with a pharmacist trained in medication therapy management. With the opportunity to accumulate more real world data, the continuous collection of data will offer the participant feedback and encouragement.

The study team seeks to better understand which groups have fewer asthma flare ups as well as learn if there is a cost benefit analysis associated with the telehealth consultations.

KU Medical Center Hub (ACRC)

By April 2020, ACRC had expanded from 22 sites to 39 sites. The KU Medical Center consortium hub includes the university itself plus Vanderbilt University, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Lead Research/Investigator

Mario Castro, MD, MPH, division chief of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine serving as Principal Investigator

Call to Action: Those with pulmonary issues (e.g. asthma etc.) that are based in Kansas may want to check out this research activity, especially with COVID-19. Sponsors with pulmonary programs should consider KU Medical Center if they haven’t already had a relationship in place.