Pathogenesis of chronic lung disease

Project Details

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The primary interest of Dr Hansen's laboratory is to understand the signalling pathways involved in the progression of chronic lung diseases such as COPD and asthma. She is involved in a multidisciplinary translational approach combining basic science with clinical validation studies through her collaboration with Lou Irving at Royal Melbourne Hospital. In particular her major research interest has been in identifying the mechanisms involved in the wasting associated with COPD. The cause of the wasting in COPD is unknown but it is a powerful predictor of mortality. Therefore, reversing wasting might be a major advance in COPD treatment increasing the quality of life and survival of patients. Dr Hansen has developed a number of preclinical models of COPD to address her research questions and to test possible therapeutic targets. This work has identified that down regulation of local skeletal muscle insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) may play a role in the wasting associated with chronic smoke exposure. IGF-1 is critical for skeletal muscle growth and regeneration. IGF-1 promotes skeletal muscle hypertrophy by increasing protein synthesis and satellite cell proliferation and differentiation. Unfortunately and paradoxically systemically administered IGF-1 is only weakly effective on muscle and, as the IGF-1 receptor is ubiquitously expressed, may increase side effects, including malignancy. Therefore, we are developing novel techniques to deliver IGF-1 that will specifically target skeletal muscle. The work from this laboratory may identify novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of the wasting associated with COPD.


Associate Professor Louis Irving (Department of Respiratory Medicine, Royal Melbourne Hospital)
Dr Carol Lang (Department of Medicine, University of Adelaide)
Professor Margaret Morris (Department of Pharmacology, University of New South Wales)
Professor Nadia Rosenthal (Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University)


NHMRC Project Grant (CIA: 2007-2009. Molecular mechanisms of wasting in experimental COPD)

NHMRC Project Grant (CIA: 2010-2012. Restoring skeletal muscle in an experimental model of COPD by targeting the IGF-1/myostatin/macrophage axis)

Research Group

Lung Health Research Centre

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes


Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Biochemistry and Pharmacology

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