Dr Euan Tovey
Our core expertise is in clinical aerobiology. This has three components; the collection of inhaled and exhaled biological materials, the detection of different organisms and molecules within these samples, and their relationship to respiratory diseases. These interests are being applied to outdoor and indoor allergen sources and more recently to bacterial products and to viruses.
• Move to new premises integrated with the rest of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.
• The first measurements of aerosolised Pseudomonas produced by talking and coughing by children with cystic fibrosis.
• Publication of two important papers: (1) The demonstration that the clinical outcomes at age 5 in the CAPS cohort have a nonlinear relationship to cumulative mite allergen exposure, (2) The use of sampling masks to collect exhaled aerosols of respiratory viruses analysed by PCR.
We will continue to function as an expert group on personal exposure to a range of bioaerosols, including allergens and endotoxin and will explore the affects that these have on the development of asthma or the exacerbation of symptoms. We hope to be able to extent these studies to more accurate models of the events generating episodes of personal exposure and examine the ways to reduce such exposure, including during the night. We will also continue to use our novel methods for sampling exhaled viruses and extend their use to asthma exacerbations in children and to bacterial aerosols involved in respiratory infections.
Masks for sampling exhaled virus aerosols: We continued with our novel studies measuring respiratory viruses exhaled by people with upper respiratory tract viral infections. These are in collaboration with the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Sydney and the Virology group at Prince of Wales Hospital. Our studies of children with asthma showing persistence of viral infections in children who are asymptomatic for colds and this is associated with asthma severity or their medications.
Endotoxin: We have measured endotoxin content of the domestic dust samples collected in the first year and at year eight in the CAPS cohort of children. Endotoxin may interact with allergen exposure and be an important modulator of the development of allergies and asthma in children. In 2009 we will undertake the complex statistical analyses of these associations.
Chitin: We attempted to establish the first assays for environmental chitin. While this was not entirely successful, we are the first group to do this and a paper is being prepared.
Student projects: We have consistently engaged summer scholarship students to pursue projects as this provides good training and experience of a working laboratory. It also enables us to access students, such as from engineering, who have different skill sets that contribute to our studies. These projects have included working on the development of chitin assays, exploring the relationship between nocturnal mite allergen exposure and movement in bed, and exploring the biological fate of mite allergens in dust.
Plane tree: This project, funded by NSW Environmental Trust, was performed in collaboration with Professor Connie Katalaris, Westmead Hospital. We examined the potential role of Plane Trees and allergic disease symptoms among inner city residents. In this, we recruited allergic inner city residents and monitored their symptoms during spring and summer and compared these to counts of different pollens and other materials collected on particle samplers. While Plane Trees were the major pollen source the season was brief and did not correlate with symptoms. Fine spiky hairs from Plane Tree leaves may play a role as irritants within the nose.
Study of CF aerosols: We developed novel methods to collect and measure pathogenic bacteria in exhaled aerosols from subjects with cystic fibrosis who were coughing and talking. We found some subjects exhaled large numbers of these bacteria which has implications for spread of infections within clinics.
Dr Euan Tovey MSc PhD
Mr Daniel Crisafulli BSc Grad Cert Des Sc
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