Scientific strategy

Respiratory diseases have a significant impact from a medical and socioeconomic viewpoint. The World Health Organisation (WHO) consequently classifies pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among the ten leading causes of death worldwide, accounting for 10 million deaths per year [source: European Lung White Book, 2003]. In Europe, the direct cost of the associated healthcare alone is at least 55 billion Euros annually, and when the indirect consequences are factored in (incapacity, life-years lost), the cost rises to close to 380 billion Euros.

Despite this critical situation, the existing treatments are limited as they relieve some symptoms, but are seldom curative. These data underscore the urgent need to develop innovate research with the aim of achieving a better understanding of the pathophysiology of respiratory diseases and formulating more effective devices for targeted therapy.

This is precisely the mission that the CEPR has set itself for the current contract, aided by the numerous complementary resources of expertise existing within the 3 teams.

In fact, CEPR’s staff includes immunologists, microbiologists, biochemists with an expertise in proteases and antiproteases, experts in aerosoltherapy, experts in murine and primate models of lung diseases as well as clinicians, all nationally and internationally recognised in their respective fields. Such diversity is an asset that allows for the development of research that is collaborative, translational as well as productive, and aimed at improving the treatments for two types of respiratory diseases.

 -       Infectious, on the one hand. The diseases investigated by CEPR pertain primarily to pneumonia caused by the influenza virus (influenza A), the Gram+ bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae and the Gram- bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa

-       Inflammatory, on the other hand. The diseases mostly investigated in the unit are COPD and fibrosis. 

These research areas are closely linked since chronic inflammation in patients suffering from COPD or cystic fibrosis is often intensified by viral or bacterial pathogens, causing respiratory failure in these patients to worsen. Inversely, host infection by a respiratory pathogen always results in chronic or acute inflammatory response that may worsen the tissue damage caused by the pathogen per se.

Besides the limitations of current chronic inflammatory disease treatments, it is also important to point out the limitations of anti-infective treatments, such as the lack of an effective treatment for most respiratory viruses, as well as bacterial resistance to antibiotics which is currently reaching dangerous levels around the globe. 

In years to come, therapeutic advances will lead to the discovery of new targets and/or anti-inflammatory and anti-infective molecules as well as improvements in the current drugs, through modification of their therapeutic index, their pharmacokinetics or their targeting by altering, for example, their method of administration (e.g. aerosols…). It is with these goals in mind that the research of CEPR is being undertaken

It is important to point out that rare are the laboratories in France which can develop a continuum of research from the deciphering of the mechanisms of respiratory infection and inflammation up to the development of drug delivery systems for their treatment.