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In 2018 we committed £60,000 to a clinical trial of the antibiotic Azithromycin to analyse its effectiveness reducing mTOR activity in sarcoidosis patients.


Sarcoidosis is characterised by granulomas in affected organs but it is still not known exactly how these granuloma form. However exciting new  research conducted in mice at the University of Vienna in 2017 suggested that sarcoidosis granuloma are formed by the activation of a protein called ‘mTOR’.

The antibiotic Azithromycin has been shown to reduce mTOR activity in inflammatory cells similar to those in sarcoidosis. This means that sarcoidosis patients could be treated with Azithromycin to reduce mTOR and prevent, or slow down, the development of sarcoidosis. Azithromycin is particularly exciting for researchers because the drug is already widely available and used to treat pneumonia and other bacterial infections. 

Dr Hart’s team will conduct a clinical trial of Azithromycin in around 30 sarcoidosis patients from the Hull Sarcoidosis Clinic. They will measure mTOR activation, blood samples, lung function and cough to determine the effectiveness of the antibiotic as a treatment for sarcoidosis. 

Research Partners

University of Hull and Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust


Dr Simon Hart, Respiratory Consultant and ILD Research Specialist, Hull York Medical School



Project Dates

2019 – 2020

Dr Simon Hart, Hull York Medical School, has been awarded the 2018 SarcoidosisUK Research Grant.

“We are delighted that SarcoidosisUK will be funding our trial to examine whether the macrolide drug azithromycin, which has combined antibiotic and immunomodulatory properties, has any beneficial effects in sarcoidosis. To look for ‘proof of principle’ we will study changes in clinical outcomes and anti-inflammatory activity in blood samples using novel cell-based assays that we have developed in our research laboratory. We expect that the results will inform feasibility of an subsequent multicentre clinical trial on a much larger scale.”

Dr Simon Hart

Consultant in Respiratory Medicine and ILD Research Specialist, Hull York Medical School

“We are very excited about this research. We have the opportunity to re-purpose an existing drug which is relatively cheap and approved for use in the UK. This means that we can bypass the length and costly drug development stages – if Dr Hart’s trial is successful we will have made huge strides into finding a cure for sarcoidosis.”

Henry Shelford

Chairperson , SarcoidosisUK

Related content from SarcoidosisUK:


SarcoidosisUK fund world-leading research into sarcoidosis. Our goal is to find a cure for the condition.

About Sarcoidosis

Read quality and accessible information about sarcoidosis, including symptoms, treatment and diagnosis.

mTOR Research

Find out more about the research into mTOR and the background to the SarcoidosisUK Research Grant 2018. 

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