New professor at the Department
In September Barbro Dahlén was appointed Adjunct professor of pulmonary medicine/allergy at the Unit of Heart and Lung diseases, Department of Medicine, Huddinge.
- I´m very glad over the appointment, particularly it is important for the research area and my colleagues here, says Barbro Dahlén, who hopes that the professorship will contribute to her colleagues' ability to do research and to patient benefit.
She is senior physician and has conducted research in pulmonary medicine/allergy since the 80s.
Why did you choose this research area?
- I got interested in the functional and immunological properties of the lungs when I worked as an anesthetist. When I then started at the Lung and Allergy Clinic a lot of asthma research was going on. I happened to investigate two patients in a row who turned out to have both allergic asthma and a lung cancer that required surgery. Both patients were interested in contributing to research, and so when they underwent lung resection, parts that were unaffected could be used for experimental studies involving stimulation with the allergen that they were allergic to, says Barbro.
The experiments yielded very interesting results and boosted Barbro´s interest to continue with asthma research and mediators that either initiate or inhibit airway obstruction and inflammation. This was also very important for the two patients.
What progress has been made in your research area in recent years?
- Around the same time as I started my research a group of substances known as leukotrienes, which are important in allergic reactions, were discovered. It has been exciting to follow the role of leukotrienes and that it became a drug out of it!
Currently, Barbro Dahlén is involved in several major research projects. One of them - in which six different research centers participate - uses bronchial provocations.
- Here we study how airway inflammation and bronchial obstruction develops by provoking asthma under controlled forms with, for example, escalating doses of birch pollen-spray in patients. We measure lung function and collect samples of different body fluids during several hours, to see - among other things - which bodily substances that are important for the reactions, Barbro explains.
In her other current projects research focus on particularly severe asthma, exercise induced asthma and asthma patients who become ill by painkillers.
- And I´m also looking in to a brand new treatment called bronchial thermoplasty, which is a way to heat the airways in asthma, for those who are not helped by cortisone. It is believed to reduce excess airway smooth muscle around the airways permanently and so far there have only been a few studies on this, says Barbro Dahlén.
There is no doubt that the new professor has a strong commitment to both research and patients.