UH Moment

UH Moment: “Asthma”

The Hippocratic Oath states that doctors should first do no harm, which is why one UH College of Pharmacy professor's asthma research is causing a stir. He's finding that to improve asthma symptoms, you've got to first make them worse. Hear about it in UH Moment.


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“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win,” said Richard Bond, associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Houston College of Pharmacy. He quotes Mahatma Gandhi when he recalls the beginnings of his research on asthma. The promising research stirred emotion and dogma from fellow researchers who bristled at Bond’s premise: worsen the asthmatic symptoms with beta blockers in order to improve the symptoms.

“Using a drug that causes short-term detriment or makes symptoms worse to treat a disease is a direct attack on the first rule of medicine which is ‘do no harm,'” Bond said.

Buoyed by similar research on congestive heart failure, he persisted. Funded by the Sandler Program for Asthma Research he collaborated with pulmonologists in the Texas Medical Center for his first studies on mice.

“If I gave it a beta blocker, after one dose the mouse had more trouble breathing. But if I left him on it for 28 days, he became a normal mouse. He lost all the airway constriction that occurred with the model,” he said.

The once bristling fellow researchers are opening up to Bond’s research now in its second trials.