The researchers will specifically set out to determine if better regulation of a protein found in lung cells might impact persistence of asthma from childhood to adulthood, working toward personalized therapies for people with adult chronic asthma.

Stefano Guerra, MD, PhD, a professor in the University of Arizona Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, recently received a $3.6 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study the protein CC16, a biomarker of injury to epithelial cells that line the lungs and are believed to be a protective mediator in the airway inflammatory process. The protein is produced mainly by “club cells,” also known as “bronchiolar exocrine cells,” in the outer airways of the lungs, but can be measured in blood circulation, as the researchers explained in an announcement.

“The project establishes an international consortium among some of the world’s leading asthma research groups that provide unique data on thousands of participants followed from birth well into their adult life,” Dr. Guerra said in a press release.