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Release: Sept. 22, 2000

Kline to receive award for asthma studies

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Joel Kline, M.D., University of Iowa associate professor of internal medicine, will receive the Central Society for Clinical Research (CSCR) Outstanding Investigator Award Friday, Sept. 22 at the annual CSCR meeting in Chicago. Kline will receive the award for his presentation titled, "Therapy of Established Eosinophilic Airway Inflammation Using CpG Oligodeoxynucleotides: A Cure for Asthma?"

"Dr. Kline's investigations are extremely exciting," said Francois M. Abboud, M.D., Edith King Pearson Professor and head of the UI department of internal medicine. "His work promises relief from suffering and perhaps even a cure for people with asthma."

Analysis of worldwide prevalence studies shows a dramatic rise in the occurrence of asthma in developed nations while showing no increase in developing or underdeveloped areas.

Kline said that one theory that explains this discrepancy proposes that children in developed nations are no longer exposed to certain bacteria that help the developing human immune system combat asthma symptoms.

"Asthma is a disease of inflammation of the airways," Kline said. "This inflammation leads to bronchospasm, which causes the symptoms we all associate with asthma like wheezing and shortness of breath."

Using molecules of artificially produced DNA (CpG DNA) that resemble specific bacterial DNA, Kline said he has been able to successfully treat asthma in mice. Previous studies from his laboratory have shown that similar early treatment in mice actually prevents the onset of asthma.

"As occurrence rates of asthma have increased in certain parts of the world, so have the number of deaths due to this disease," Kline said. Human studies looking at the effect of treatment with CpG DNA on asthma are planned," he added. "We're very hopeful about the outcome of these studies," Kline said.

Kline is director of the UI Clinical Exposure Facility and has a secondary appointment in the UI College of Public Health. Funding for his award winning studies has been provided by the National Institutes of Health.

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