Asthma researchers in Nottingham are appealing for volunteers to come forward for a study that could radicalise our understanding of the disease and pave the way for more effective new treatments.
The team from the Nottingham Respiratory Research Unit
at The University of Nottingham are keen to recruit both asthmatics and healthy adults on to the clinical trial, which is part of a European-wide study into the condition.
Dr Dominick Shaw, who is leading the trial in Nottingham, said: “This is the largest European study of severe asthma ever. It could revolutionise our understanding of the disease process and lead to better, more personalised treatments.”
Asthma is a major health problem around the world. Not all types of asthma are the same and current treatments often adopt a ‘one size, fits all’ approach which don’t always work well for all patients.
The clinical trial in Nottingham, part of the larger U-BIOPRED study, will look at how severe asthma differs from person to person in the hope of uncovering more personalised and effective therapies in the future.
In most cases, severe asthma symptoms can be managed but for around 1.2 million people in Europe, current treatment approaches are insufficient. In the most serious cases, acute asthma attacks can lead to emergency hospitalisation and —for 12,000 Europeans a year — can be fatal.
Dr Shaw added: “The U-BIOPRED project is a ground-breaking study which we hope will greatly improve treatment options for people with asthma. Every case of asthma is different, so medicine that is helpful for one person may not work for another.
“We hope that our findings can be used to develop new, more effective asthma treatments for patients to improve their quality of life and help them — and the healthcare professionals treating them — to develop their understanding of the condition.”
Nottingham student Sam Emery, 20, has suffered from the debilitating effects of asthma since she was a nine-month-old baby. It became particularly bad during her teen years when she was repeatedly hospitalised by asthma attacks, leaving her unable to go out with friends and spending most of her free time catching up with school work missed as a result of her ill health.
Despite her setbacks, Sam, who is from Brighton, has recently completed the second year of a degree in pharmacy and her asthma has massively improved since taking part in a six-week clinical trial at Nottingham examining the potential benefits of an antibiotic on asthma patients, which she has continued taking after experiencing positive results.
She is due to join the U-BIOPRED study in September this year and believes that clinical trials like this are vital in furthering our knowledge of asthma.
Sam said: “Since taking part in the previous trial I haven’t had to be hospitalised from my asthma. It has also helped to convince me that the more people who take part in clinical trials of this kind, the more we can learn about helping people with debilitating illnesses like asthma.
“I was particularly attracted to the U-BIOPRED study because of the individualised treatment element —people do react differently to drugs and, rather than having to try so many to find the right one, patients could be treated more effectively with a tailored approach.”
The researchers are looking for people with severe asthma, who are on a high dose of steroids. They also require adult volunteers with mild-to-moderate asthma who are non-smokers and adults without asthma who are non-smokers.
The volunteers would be required to visit Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust’s City Hospital campus for three appointments at the Respiratory Research Unit and a further appointment at the Lung Function Department at the Queen’s Medical Centre. The visits will assess current health, evidence of allergies, lung function, levels of inflammation and genetic make-up.
In addition, the volunteers with severe asthma will be asked to continue participating over a longer period of time, which will involve being followed up by researchers at intervals over three years.
Volunteers who come forward for the trial, which is recruiting until December this year, will have all their travel expenses covered.
U-BIOPRED (Unbiased BIOmarkers in PREDiction of respiratory disease outcomes) is funded by a programme set up by both the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations called the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). It involves a partnership of universities, research institutes, the pharmaceutical industry, small companies and patient organisations.
Anyone interested in taking part in the U-BIOPRED trial can contact Katherine Smith on 0115 8231911 or by email at Katherine.firstname.lastname@example.org
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