Nottingham smokers wanted for vital research into lung disease

15 Apr 2019 15:30:37.113

Smokers in Nottingham are being given the chance to take part in world-leading research into an incurable lung disease.

The research is supported by the British Lung Foundation (BLF) and will be looking at the very early stages of the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which affects 3 million people in the UK.1

Figures from the British Lung Foundation reveal that people in Nottingham are 42% more likely to die from this serious condition than the England, Scotland and Wales average. They are also over 92% more likely to be hospitalised for COPD than the average person in Great Britain. 2   

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The team of experts from the University of Nottingham, Nottingham NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH) would like to recruit a group of young adult smokers between the ages of 30 and 45 years. The researchers will study this ‘BLF Early COPD Cohort’ to track changes in their lung function over time. 

Uniquely, through this research the team will be able to identify those most at risk of developing the condition which is a considerable cause of illness and death. 

COPD is a life-long condition that makes breathing difficult because the airways have been narrowed. People living with COPD become increasingly more breathless and this can affect everyday tasks. 

Although 20% of people with COPD have never smoked and not all smokers develop COPD. But in the UK, it is mainly caused by smoking from early adulthood. 

Professor of Respiratory Medicine Charlotte Bolton from the University and NUH said: “We know that smoking is a major cause of COPD, yet we know very little about what happens in the early stages of the disease.

“Currently, treatment for COPD is limited to managing symptoms, rather than tackling the root causes of the disease. There is a huge need to study the early stages of COPD, as they could hold the key to improving treatment options for patients. 

“This is a really exciting opportunity to improve our understanding of a disease which affects thousands of people in Nottingham.”

Ian Jarrold, Head of Research at the British Lung Foundation, said: “COPD can be incredibly life-limiting for people. Think about the last time you were out of breath and imagine being in that state just doing everyday tasks like brushing your teeth. 

“There remains an urgent need to provide people with better treatments, but this is dependent on us gaining a better understanding of how the condition develops and progresses. This study will be invaluable in helping us answer these questions.” 

The Nottingham COPD study is part of a larger UK-wide study led by Professor Jadwiga Wedzicha at Imperial College London which expects to recruit approximately 1000 participants from eight centres across the UK. 

Smokers living in the Nottingham area who are interested in volunteering to take part in the study must be aged between 30-45 years but have no current lung disease diagnosed. People can find out more by calling0115 82 31406, emailing by texting ‘Study Early’ to 88802. 

Participants could benefit by having a CT scan of the chest free of charge, access to stop smoking support, a research team specialising in COPD, and follow-ups with the NHS if abnormalities are found. 

[1]1.2 million live with COPD in the UK and an estimated 2 million remain undiagnosed. NHS England: Overview of potential to reduce lives lost from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD),

2Battle for Breath - the impact of lung disease in the UK, British Lung Foundation, These are “relative risks” that measure the risk in a certain area relative to “England Scotland and Wales”. The data are adjusted for age – i.e. the age distribution in each area has been taken into account in the calculation of the figures. This means that the differences seen in admission and mortality risks are not simply because of differences in the age distribution between areas.

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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named both Sports and International University of the Year in the  2019 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer, proud of our Athena SWAN silver award, and a key industry partner- locally and globally.


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More information is available from Professor Charlotte Bolton via email

Emma Rayner - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 74 84413  Location: University Park

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