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In 1978, the Firestone Regional Chest and Allergy Unit was established at then St. Joseph’s Hospital. It was designated as the Regional Referral Centre by the District Health Council, and to this day has maintained that designation. Firestone’s main goal was to provide exemplary clinical services and research excellence, a principle that has guided our collaborative research development with clinical activities.

This year marks Firestone’s 40th anniversary, a milestone that speaks to the success of our institute – the proud partnership of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and McMaster University. Each and every day I am reminded of all that has been accomplished here; treatments for illnesses including asthma, COPD, IPF, allergies, emphysema, and others.

In my role as the Research Director of the Firestone Institute, I have the privilege of working with a group of incredibly talented individuals. I still find myself in awe of the advances that are being realized right here in the heart of Hamilton – whether they come out of Firestone or another research centre at St. Joseph’s. It’s clear that no matter what field, this research hospital is at the forefront of innovative treatment and care.

In recent weeks, researchers at the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health have had four papers published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This remarkable accomplishment is a testament to the importance and the impact of research being conducted here at St. Joe’s.

The work of Dr. O’Byrne and Dr. Nair, authors of the recent papers, is featured in this issue of Innovator. Each paper signifies major advances in the treatment of mild and severe asthma – and with an estimated 2.4 million Canadians affected by the disease, the treatment opportunities that arise from this research are far-reaching.

Dr. O’Byrne’s recent work, published in two papers in the same issue of the influential journal, involved an international study of thousands of participants. He found that as-needed budesonide-formoterol inhalers were superior to as-needed terbutaline inhalers in reducing the risk of asthma exacerbation. The results are expected to influence how doctors prescribe these medications.

Dr. Nair’s publication, the third of the recent papers, focused on an antibody called dupilumab and its use in the treatment of severe asthma. His study demonstrated that a treatment regimen consisting of dupilumab allowed patients to reduce their dependence on inhaled corticosteroids by up to seventy percent.

The fourth paper of this incredible series demonstrated the safety of a combined corticosteroid-LABA drug. Dr. O’Byrne was part of this international study of over 36,000 participants – the early results of which prompted a rare move by the FDA to eliminate the boxed warning from the combination drug.

These papers represent some of the many reasons why Firestone is known internationally as a powerhouse in respiratory research and care. I hope that our past successes continue to inspire us for the journey ahead, helping Canadians breathe better. When it comes to respiratory health, all roads lead to Firestone.


Return to the Innovator 2018 - Summer Edition Newsletter

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