NIHR | Manchester Biomedical Research Centre
Our Research: Respiratory


Did you know that COPD is the fifth leading cause of death in the UK and costs the NHS more than £1 billion per year?

We believe that being able to diagnose chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) earlier would significantly improve outcomes for patients. However, a lack of accurate indicators of COPD activity as well as incomplete understanding of mechanisms responsible for exacerbations present considerable barriers to us being able to do this.

Our previous research has demonstrated that COPD progression differs between individuals and that response to treatments differ. We are now working towards a more personalised approach to treating subtypes of COPD, which will bring huge benefits to patients and the NHS.

Our research is:

  • Providing a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms (changes in immunological homeostasis and macrophage function) behind COPD to inform the development of blood, sputum and breath tests (biomarkers) to diagnose COPD and its subtypes.
  • Monitoring disease progression using advanced lung physiology techniques and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to identify biomarkers for disease course and response to treatments
  • Examining the accuracy of our ability to characterize exacerbations (‘flare-ups’) of COPD using biomarkers already available as well as those we aim to develop.
  • Matching individual patients to the anti-inflammatory treatment trial which is most likely to work for them (based on biomarkers/stratification) and monitoring their response – both in stable COPD and during exacerbations.

We have established DECODE-NET, a network of European and North American researchers with an interest in trials in COPD exacerbations; includes development of a Core Outcome Set for exacerbations, funded by the European Respiratory Society.