UM Researcher Receives FDA Authorization for Cough Research

March 08, 2019

UM News Service

MISSOULA – University of Montana researcher Laurie Slovarp has received Investigational New Drug authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin research on a treatment for chronic cough. She is one of the first UM faculty members to submit a full IND application to the FDA to administer an investigational drug as part of clinical research. 

Slovarp will study whether a molecule found in chili peppers can be used to enhance behavioral cough therapy for people who experience chronic cough due to cough hypersensitivity. Cough hypersensitivity results in cough triggered by things like perfumes, cooking smells, cold air, eating crumbly foods, and even talking or laughing.

UM researcher Laurie Slovarp recently received Investigational New Drug authorization from the FDA.She will investigate the potential of administering the FDA-approved molecule during behavioral cough therapy sessions to assist patients in their ability to suppress cough, which she hypothesizes will enhance the therapy and result in a reduction in cough sensitivity and cough frequency.

Slovarp first tested the treatment in a group of healthy individuals, all of whom experienced a significant change in cough sensitivity following the treatment. Her study was recently published in Annals of Translational Medicine.

Slovarp said chronic cough is the leading non-emergency reason people see a doctor, and up to 20 percent of patients do not respond to standard medical treatment.

“For many patients, this disorder leads to loss of work, social isolation and depression,” said Slovarp. “If this new therapy is found to be effective, it could become a noninvasive and inexpensive treatment option for many people who currently have limited options.”

Unless it qualifies for an exemption, an FDA IND authorization is required for any research that involves administering an investigational drug to humans.

“Dr. Slovarp worked diligently through the IND application process, which took about six weeks,” said IRB chair Paula Baker. “She then presented her study to the University of Montana Institutional Review Board, which has given full approval to begin her research.” 

An associate professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Slovarp directs the Voice Outcomes and Inquiry of Cough and Essentials in Swallowing (VOICES) Lab, which conducts research related to swallowing disorders (dysphagia) and chronic cough.

Her work has been supported through the Mountain West Clinical Translational Research Infrastructure Network, the Montana IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

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Contact: Laurie Slovarp, UM associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders, 406-243-2107, laurie.slovarp@umontana.edu.