Researchers from COPSAC, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital and Harvard University have joined forces to study what mechanisms are important to prevent the development of asthma. The study has received funding of 2 million dollars from the renowned National Institute of Health (NIH) and the project starts in the fall.
Asthma is a very common cause for visits at the general practitioner and medication of children and adolescents often leads to the loss of a significant number of school and work days. Asthma is a complex disease and existing research indicates that the triggering of the disease is an interaction between risk genes and various environmental factors, including the mother’s diet in pregnancy. Recently, it has been established that supplements in pregnancy of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the child’s risk of developing asthma, but insight into the underlying mechanisms is insufficient.
“In this research project we want to study the mechanisms on how known asthma genes, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplements in pregnancy can change the child’s asthma risk,” says Professor Hans Bisgaard, co-PI at the project and research director at Copenhagen Prospective Studies on asthma in childhood (COPSAC). We will use data from 1218 mother-child pairs from two randomized controlled trials where we have used identical study design and follow-up strategies, respectively. The American Cohort Vitamin D Antenatal Asthma Reduction Trial (VDAART) and the Danish COPSAC2010 cohort.
“The study design is very strong, as we will use data collected at various times through early life and from both pregnant women and their children,” says associate professor Bo Chawes, co-investigator of the project, senior scientist at COPSAC and recently a 1-year fellow at Harvard University.
Results from this project could be of great importance in clarifying mechanisms involved in the development of asthma in children and could contribute to better and more targeted prevention strategies against childhood asthma.