Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways that is on the increase. 5.4 million people receive asthma medications in the UK each year. That is 1:12 adults and 1:11 children. Asthma is treatable and it is frustrating that despite the amount of treatment prescribed, one patient with asthma has an attack every ten seconds, and approximately 17% of asthma patients find it a disease difficult to control.
The Respiratory Medicine Unit in Oxford is committed to improving the lives of these patients. We aim to develop new and effective therapies which are transformative for patients with difficult asthma. The key to this is a better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of asthma at a cellular level; this will allow us to measure and describe differential inflammatory phenotypes and then target the individual pathways with specific inhibitors. Our goal is to to use a precision personalised approach for our patients and improve the clinical outcomes for them, and even allow them to use less standard inhaled medication, such as inhaled corticosteroids.
Our current studies take a classic bench to bedside approach. Each patient attending our asthma clinics is very carefully examined and characterised. If eligible they are entered into one of our clinical trials. Otherwise biological samples are collated for analysis. We are looking at both mild and severe asthma patients, and our trials range from comparisons of different treatment approaches for mild asthma to specific antibody therapy in steroid dependent severe asthma.
We have a team of dedicated asthma research nurses, clinicians and laboratory scientists who work both in primary and secondary care. We collaborate widely within the University of Oxford, as well as nationally and internationally. We have close links both to other asthma research departments and the pharmaceutical industry.
We can see a future where it will be possible to describe the phenotype of an individual asthma patient, prescribe a specific therapy and expect a positive clinical response. One perhaps where the sledgehammer anti-inflammatory approach of inhaled or oral corticosteroids has been superseded by one yearly specific antibody therapy.
Tuesday 2nd May 2017 is World Asthma Day.