The Taggart Group
My research focuses on the innate immune response in the lung and how this becomes compromised during acute and chronic disease with an emphasis on Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and Acute LungInjury (ALI). There is a specific focus on the role of proteases, particularly how elevated or dysregulated protease activity can contribute to the cleavage andinactivation of important host defense proteins many of which are antimicrobialor anti-inflammatory. This disruption of the host defense environment of the respiratory tract may contribute to the promotion of excessive inflammation andinfection in acute and chronic disease. More recently, to address the issue of compromised innate host defense function in the airways, I have been involved in a number of studies (funded by EPSRC and InvestNI) to design novel ways to improve the functionality of these proteins. Some of the approaches being taken include the use of nanoparticles to facilitate delivery of drugs into the lungs resulting in increased protection from proteolytic degradation and controlled release of these entities. In addition, we have synthesized protease inhibitors with improved functionality which may be of therapeutic interest. Finally, using in vivo models of lung disease we have identified a number of protease targets that may be involved in the inflammatory response in the lungs and we are about to begin the evaluation of protease inhibitors, obtained from industrial partners and collaborators, in these models.
Click on the link below for the Media Report on the Alpha-1 study.