LENS Health and Wellness

Breathing Easier

Tailored Treatments for People with Severe Lung Conditions

Headshot of Benjamin Gaston, Professor

Benjamin Gaston, professor

A Case Western Reserve researcher is a leader in bringing personalized medicine to people with severe and chronic airway diseases.

Benjamin Gaston, MD, has been awarded a grant that could amount to $13.3 million over five years from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The aim is to develop medications and determine which medicines—alone or in combination with others—are most effective for people with severe asthma or cystic fibrosis. Treatment plans are based on the study participants’ specific disease profiles at the cellular level.

Gaston is a pediatric professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and division chief of both pediatric pulmonary medicine, and pediatric allergy and immunology at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

During the study period, Gaston and his team intend to develop personalized treatments for approximately 375 cystic fibrosis patients and 1,330 people with severe asthma for whom conventional approaches aren’t working.

Gaston said the NIH grant makes it possible to look at small populations of people with unique needs and test therapies that combine medications from different pharmaceutical companies—something he said those companies might not do in their own studies.

“That’s why it’s so important for the NIH to be involved in this,” Gaston said. “It has stepped in and said ‘OK, we’ll help make this a project you can afford to do.’”

—Julie H. Case