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College of Veterinary Medicine Researcher Seeks Help for Patients with Chronic Lung Disease

Kenneth Adler, a professor of cell biology at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and one of the nation’s top-ranked biomedical researchers, has spent more than three decades investigating diseases of respiratory airways and the problem of excess mucus production—a condition that ranges from annoying in a cold to deadly in cystic fibrosis.

More than 100 million people suffer from diseases of the lung and upper respiratory system in which the airways become chronically clogged with

Dr. Kenneth Adler is a recipient of the O. Max Gardner Award presented by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors for the faculty member recognized as having made “the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.”

mucus. These pulmonary diseases include chronic bronchitis, asthma, and cystic fibrosis. No currently available medication targets excess mucus in the airways.

Dr. Adler’s research in the Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research  has led to a better understanding of mucus production, including the discovery of a protein known as MARCKS—which is important in the secretory process—and the development of a synthesized peptide (MANS peptide) that blocks mucus hypersecretion in mice. A drug based on this research is being tested.

“We are cautiously optimistic about the success of a drug being developed from the MANS peptide,” says Dr. Adler. “Additional studies are underway to discern as much as possible about the mechanisms associated with MARCKS protein and its effects on mucus secretion. I am one of the fortunate basic researchers who can see their work directed toward a disease process reach the point where a potential new therapy can be developed. I am extremely grateful to be in a position where my basic research could actually form the basis for helping millions of individuals who suffer daily from lung and respiratory disease.”