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Of flies, mice and men: a systematic approach to understanding the early life origins of chronic lung disease
  1. Susanne Krauss-Etschmann1,2,
  2. Andrew Bush3,
  3. Saverio Bellusci4,
  4. Guy G Brusselle5,
  5. Sven Erik K Dahlén6,
  6. Stefan Dehmel1,
  7. Oliver Eickelberg1,
  8. Greg Gibson7,
  9. Machteld N Hylkema8,
  10. Petra Knaus9,
  11. Melanie Königshoff1,
  12. Clare M Lloyd10,
  13. Paolo Macciarini11,
  14. Arnaud Mailleux12,
  15. Benjamin J Marsland13,
  16. Dirkje S Postma14,
  17. Graham Roberts15,16,
  18. Christos Samakovlis17,
  19. Janet Stocks18,
  20. Joke Vandesompele19,
  21. Matthias Wjst1,
  22. John Holloway16
  1. 1Comprehensive Pneumology Center, Helmholtz Center Munich, Munich, Germany
  2. 2Children's Hospital of the Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany
  3. 3Imperial College and Royal Brompton Hospital, London, UK
  4. 4Excellence Cluster in Cardio-Pulmonary Systems, Department of Internal Medicine II, University of Giessen Lung Center, Giessen, Germany
  5. 5Department of Respiratory Medicine, Laboratory for Translational Research in Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases, Gent University Hospital, Belgium
  6. 6Institute of Environmental Medicine, Division of Physiology, The Unit of Experimental Asthma and Allergy Research, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  7. 7Center for Integrative Genomics, Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Biology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  8. 8Department of Pathology and Medical Biology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
  9. 9Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Freie Universitaet, Berlin, Germany
  10. 10Leukocyte Biology, National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, UK
  11. 11Department of General Thoracic and Regenerative Surgery and Intrathoracic Biotransplantation University Hospital Careggi, Florence, Italy
  12. 12INSERM, U700, Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France
  13. 13Faculty of Biology and Medicine, University of Lausanne, Service de Pneumologie, Lausanne, Switzerland
  14. 14Department of Pulmonology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
  15. 15NIHR Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  16. 16Human Development & Health and Clinical & Experimental Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  17. 17Developmental Biology, The Wenner-Gren Institute, Stockholm University, Sweden
  18. 18Portex Unit: Respiratory Physiology and Medicine, UCL Institute of Child Health, London, UK
  19. 19Center for Medical Genetics, Gent University Hospital, Gent, Belgium and Biogazelle, Zwijnaarde, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Dr Susanne Krauss-Etschmann, Comprehensive Pneumology Center, Helmholtz Center Munich and Children's Hospital of Ludwig-Maximilians University, Max-Lebsche Platz 31, Munich 81377, Germany; susanne.krauss-etschmann{at}


Despite intensive research efforts, the aetiology of the majority of chronic lung diseases (CLD) in both, children and adults, remains elusive. Current therapeutic options are limited, providing only symptomatic relief, rather than treating the underlying condition, or preventing its development in the first place. Thus, there is a strong and unmet clinical need for the development of both, novel effective therapies and preventative strategies for CLD. Many studies suggest that modifications of prenatal and/or early postnatal lung development will have important implications for future lung function and risk of CLD throughout life. This view represents a fundamental change of current pathophysiological concepts and treatment paradigms, and holds the potential to develop novel preventative and/or therapeutic strategies. However, for the successful development of such approaches, key questions, such as a clear understanding of underlying mechanisms of impaired lung development, the identification and validation of relevant preclinical models to facilitate translational research, and the development of concepts for correction of aberrant development, all need to be solved. Accordingly, a European Science Foundation Exploratory Workshop was held where clinical, translational and basic research scientists from different disciplines met to discuss potential mechanisms of developmental origins of CLD, and to identify major knowledge gaps in order to delineate a roadmap for future integrative research.

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