But he’s not stopping there. Dr. Adunka said the team plans to continue collecting preliminary data and expects to submit a new proposal to NIH in June. “It worked out perfectly,” he said. “We’re right on track …we had some difficulties early on, but everything is going the right direction.”
Explore This IssueSeptember 2011
Allergens have long been studied as a contributing factor to laryngitis, particularly in those patients who present chronic laryngitis without a clear etiology. Dr. Belafsky is taking that idea one step further, examining the role of the environment in laryngitis.
“The idea that allergens can affect the lungs and larynx is not novel,” he said, “… but the concept that allergens and pollution work synergistically to affect the larynx and esophagus is.” He added that his research “may provide new insight into the etiology of the current pandemic of chronic laryngitis and esophagitis.”
Dr. Belafsky is using 24 guinea pigs divided into four study groups to examine the impact of the environment on the larynx and esophagus. One group is being exposed to dust mite allergens, another to combustion particles simulating pollution and a third to both agents combined. The fourth set is a control group. The animal exposures have been completed, and preliminary data suggests that the combination of sensitized allergens and combustion particles causes pan-eosinophilia in the larynx.
“This will be the first description in the literature of eosinophilic laryngitis,” Dr. Belafsky said. “The future? In an animal model, we’ve described eosinophilic laryngitis. We need to see if this is a true disease entity in humans.”
To make that next step happen likely means more funding. And for “grateful” physicians like Dr. Belafsky, the Career Development Award is often seen as a stepping stone to that money, particularly in the form of NIH grants.
“The NIH is not going to fund this preliminary work,” he said. “It is difficult to secure support for such a high-risk project in this environment.”
Dr. Chen is using a new technology to measure oxygen levels in tumors and tissue as a tool to individualize cancer treatments and improve wound healing in patients. Her grant is paying for an animal model looking at radiation-induced tissue hypoxia.