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National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre
Our Research: Respiratory

Asthma

How can we better diagnose and treat asthma?

Over five million people in the UK receive treatment for asthma. However, there are concerns around the accuracy and complexity of existing diagnostic tests, which may result in under and over-diagnosis.

We are:

  • Simplifying the process for diagnosing asthma and develop biomarkers to predict response/select the most appropriate treatment

Through previous work, we have identified that exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can differentiate between patients with confirmed asthma and from healthy individuals. They can also be used to identify subtypes of asthma.

We are:

  • Evaluating the accuracy of exhaled breath VOCs in diagnosing asthma and predicting treatment response for children and young adults newly diagnosed using standard diagnostic tests

There is also evidence to suggest that the timing of asthma treatment can improve outcomes for patients.

We are:

  • Conducting a proof-of-concept phase II study of chronotherapeutics in new onset asthma to test the effectiveness of using an individual’s biological clock to schedule and personalise treatment

Allergic asthma is triggered by inhaled allergens, such as pollen and dust mites. We know that dendritic cells play a key role in initiating the Th2 immune response and also that a specific protein (Mbd2) may modulate this allergic response, but this process is not fully understood.

Our research is:

  • Measuring gene expression in inflammatory cells in patients with new onset asthma (using samples from the blood, sputum and epithelial lining fluid from within the lung), to identify new potential drug targets and validate them using in vitro (outside of the body) models