NIHR | Manchester Biomedical Research Centre
Our Research:

Respiratory Medicine

Lung disease affects one in five people and is the third biggest cause of death in England (after cancer and heart disease).

Lung disease hits the poorest in our society the hardest and this contributes to the gap in life expectancy between the poorest and wealthiest.

Our research focuses on asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic cough and lung infections such as pneumonia.

We research better ways to diagnose lung disease and we research what factors decide how well people respond to treatments.

Our lung patients through VOCALAsthma and Lung UK, and Let’s Talk About Cough help us shape our research.

We have international leadership in COPD, lung symptoms, infection and asthma. We are based within one of the largest clinical lung departments in the UK – at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust’s Wythenshawe Hospital.

We host the NIHR Respiratory Translational Research Collaborative where we work with other NIHR Biomedical Research Centres to deliver early phase multi-centre studies which will benefit patients with lung diseases.

Our research is in four areas:

Precision diagnostics and therapeutics in airways disease

Here, one of our aims is to find the best way to diagnose asthma. We also research the changes in the chemicals and bugs in the lungs of patients with COPD. In turn, these findings will lead to improvements in care, by getting each patient on the right treatment, at the right time for them.

Understanding and improving airway symptoms and function

We are improving our understanding of why people cough to develop better treatments.  We research the effects of pollution inside and outside on peoples’ health, assessing pollution risks important to our Greater Manchester population.

Exacerbation mechanisms and diagnosis

We research different approaches to diagnose acute lung infections (pneumonia) and worsening of chronic lung conditions (asthma and COPD).

Precision therapy in respiratory infections/exacerbations

Much of this research takes place in Manchester’s NIHR Centre for Precision Approaches to Combatting Antimicrobial Resistance. This research will improve the understanding of why infections don’t always respond to treatments such as antibiotics, to design better treatments that reduce the local, national, and global burden of drug-resistant infections.

Our impact:

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is most common amongst the poorest of households. We developed clinical trial designs in COPD which have helped develop newer inhalers, containing mixtures of treatments. Inhalers containing 3 different drugs are now approved for use globally. Our research has changed national and international guidelines, including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) Science Committee.

Chronic cough is a common and often distressing symptom. Difficulties measuring chronic cough have hampered the development of effective treatments. With industrial partner Vitalograph, we developed the first accurate system to count coughing (VitaloJAK™). This is the only cough monitor currently used to test new drug treatments in the US and Europe. The cough monitor was important in the development of gefapixant, the first drug licensed for chronic cough, now licensed in Japan, Switzerland and the EU.