Breathing Research and Therapeutics

breathing research area

Individuals with neural injury or disease often suffer from inadequate or unstable breathing, swallowing difficulties and an inability to defend their airways. Our researchers are developing new therapies to preserve independent breathing and swallowing, prolonging the quality and duration of life in patients with neuromuscular disorders.

Research at the MBI

The MBI unites basic and clinical researchers committed to understanding the biology and pathophysiology of breathing and airway defense. Focus areas include preclinical research on respiratory neuro and muscle biology and translational research in animal models and humans with neuromuscular disorders that compromise breathing. Principles derived from studies of respiratory function have also proven relevant in other movements, including walking, arm function, speech and swallowing.

Breathing Research and Therapeutics Center (BREATHE)

Led by director Gordon Mitchell, Ph.D., BREATHE is the only center in the US with a unique focus on respiratory neuromuscular function. BREATHE is dedicated to preserving breathing and airway defense in a wide range of severe clinical disorders that threaten life due to respiratory failure, such as spinal cord injury, ALS, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Pompe disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and post-COVID-19 syndrome. Center members conduct cutting-edge research on novel therapeutics for currently untreatable neuromuscular disorders, including neurotherapeutic intermittent hypoxia, spinal stimulation and gene therapy. In the wake of the COVID pandemic, and with ventilatory failure being the major cause of death in many traumatic, neurodegenerative, and toxic (including opioid overdose) disorders, BREATHE is poised to make a lasting impact on the lives of patients and their families.

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