NIHR | Manchester Biomedical Research Centre

RADicA: Rapid access diagnostics for asthma

Asthma is an extremely common condition but, diagnosis can be challenging, with no single definitive test available. Getting an accurate early diagnosis of asthma is vital – it is often a lifelong condition and receiving the wrong diagnosis and treatment can have life-changing consequences.

Researchers from Manchester BRC’s Respiratory theme are working alongside global medical device company Owlstone Medical as part of the RADicA study to test a novel breathalyser device which measures the small airways in the lungs and breath based biomarkers to diagnose the condition quickly and guide patients to the correct treatments.

To address the difficulties of easily obtaining an accurate asthma diagnosis the RADicA study aims to provide clear diagnosis with a non-invasive approach offering a ‘window’ into overall lung health and reduce the number of people that are wrongly diagnosed resulting in them taking unnecessary medication.

Owlstone’s novel Breath Biopsy platform is collecting breath samples from asthmatic patients
and healthy controls, which are analyzed to identify breath-based biomarkers. Using these
breath-based biomarkers and measures of small airway function, will allow the rapid, accurate and low-cost diagnosis and monitoring of asthma, along with better classification of different forms of asthma, their progression, and effect on airway inflammation. This will also allow the predication of a participant’s likely response to inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) treatment.

The RADicA study is utilising the world-class facilities at the NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility, supported by a highly experienced team of research nurses for patient oversight and management.

The study has benefited from the Manchester BRC’s expertise in recruiting participants
from the hugely diverse populations near our hospitals, with recruitment rates exceeding
expectations. Manchester BRC worked with local GPs to develop a pop-up system on patient
systems which prompts them to discuss the study when their patients enter the term “wheeze”.

By using the data collected in the study, the project is comparing the performance and clinical use of these approaches to the existing large airway tests.

RADicA is now expanding to study novel diagnostic approaches in children, working with Exhalation Technologies and Revenio Research, to hopefully result in simpler diagnosis and appropriate treatment sooner.