New pediatric respiratory test could be a game-changer

Dr. Adamko has earned a Western Economic Diversification Canada grant to further his research

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A new test being developed at the College of Medicine to help detect respiratory disease in children has received funding from the Western Economic Diversification Canada program.

Dr. Darryl Adamko, a pediatric pulmonary specialist, has received $235,000 to develop and commercialize a test to improve the testing, and subsequent treatment, for pulmonary diseases such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

“In a typical doctors’ office we don’t do objective measures of asthma, in children or adults for the most part,” Adamko explained following the funding announcement. “So how do you adjust therapy if you’re not actually measuring? So we rely a lot on history and physical and trials of therapy.”

His research focuses on a urine-based test that can not only improve diagnosis, but help to ensure the patient receives the appropriate, long-term treatment.

“The goal of this research is to create an objective test to diagnose asthma versus other respiratory diseases that might look like asthma,” Adamko continued. “(But) also to determine whether asthma is being well controlled or not – so whether the therapies are working.

“(The impact) could be potentially huge – it could be a test used by family doctors all over the world.”

Adamko, who graduated from the CoM in 1993, has a strong research-based history in working with asthma after having completed a pediatric pulmonary fellowship at Johns Hopkins University in 2001, and working as an associate, and then adjunct, professor at both the University of Alberta and now at the University of Saskatchewan.

“I’m a children’s lung doctor and I see that children with asthma have difficulties in terms of diagnosis and management,” he stressed. “Too many kids aren’t being treated as well as they could, but it’s also because we don’t have good tests to help the typical family doctors.”

And it’s that interest in helping to fill the gaps in diagnosis and treatment that has earned Adamko the funding from the WEDC.

“This project has the potential to change the way Canada’s doctors diagnose asthma,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development in a press release about the funding. “This strategic investment is one of the many ways world-class research is positioning Canada to be a global leader in science and innovation.”