NEW YORK, N.Y. —  Biopharmaceutical company Hoth Therapeutics has tapped NC State to collaborate and carry out a preclinical study using gene therapy to treat asthma.

The study has begun with Dr. Glenn Cruse appointed to its Scientific Advisory Board, and will oversee the Company’s gene therapy programs advancements.

“Commencement of this initiative is an important step in the development and growth of our company,” said Robb Knie, chief executive officer of Hoth Therapeutics, in a statement.  “We are extremely pleased that our gene therapy program with NC State has officially begun and that Dr. Cruse who is overseeing the advancement of experiments has joined our Scientific Advisory Board..  Dr. Cruse’s expertise as a leading mast cell biologist in allergic and inflammatory diseases will be invaluable for the preclinical development of Splice-switching oligonucleotides (SSOs) for asthma.”

Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, according to Mayo Clinic.

For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack.

Last November, Hoth entered into a licensing agreement with North Carolina State University (NC State) to study NC State’s Exon Skipping Approach for Treating Allergic Diseases.

This Exon Skipping Approach was developed by Dr. Glenn Cruse, Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. During Dr. Cruse’s research, a new approach for the technique of antisense oligonucleotide-mediated exon skipping to specifically target and down-regulate IgE receptor expression in mast cells was identified. These findings set a breakthrough for allergic diseases as they are driven by the activation of mast cells and the release of mediators in response to IgE-directed antigens.

Glenn Cruse completed his Ph.D.  at Glenfield Hospital, The University of Leicester, UK in 2009. He then moved to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland in January 2010 to start a visiting postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratory of Allergic Diseases, NIAID, In January 2015, Dr. Cruse was appointed as a Research Fellow in the same laboratory. Dr. Cruse joined the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences at NC State in January 2016 as an Assistant Professor.

Dr. Cruse is a mast cell biologist that has authored and co-authored over 30 publications including articles in top journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA and Immunity. The Cruse lab is interested in the role that mast cells play in allergic and inflammatory diseases and identifying novel therapeutics that target mast cells. Since mast cells act as sentinel cells that participate in both innate and acquired immunity, particularly at biological barriers, emphasis on diseases in tissues at the interface with the environment such as the lung, skin, gastrointestinal tract and even the neuro-immune axis are the main focus of the lab.