Ground-breaking research Centre set to revolutionise asthma care for 5.4m people

The Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research has launched this month - the UK’s first integrated Centre focused solely on improving the quality of life of people with asthma by finding better treatments and making them available faster than ever before - with input from The University of Manchester.

The Centre is co-ordinated through the University of Edinburgh and Queen Mary, University of London and backed by 13 of the UK’s leading academic and NHS organisations – including The University of Manchester and  University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust. Manchester has a strong record of research in asthma and allergy, in adults and children and in both primary care and hospital settings, notably the Manchester Asthma and Allergy Study (MAAS), which is a population of 1000 children who were recruited during pregnancy in 1996/7.
More than 5 million people in the UK are affected by asthma yet research into this life-threatening condition is chronically underfunded, taking an average of 17 years currently to develop a new asthma treatment. Asthma UK’s vision for this pioneering, multidisciplinary research initiative is to halve the time it takes to get innovations to people with asthma and to develop the next generation of world class applied asthma researchers. The NHS spends around £1 billion a year treating and caring for people with asthma. In 2008/09 up to 1.1 million working days were lost due to breathing or lung problems.
Ann-Louise Caress, Professor of Nursing in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, The University of Manchester and University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I'm delighted that Manchester is one of the sites involved in this exciting collaboration. The Centre offers unique opportunities for undertaking research which will be of real benefit to the lives of people with asthma. I'm helping to develop 'patient and public involvement' in the Centre's research. This is a key element of good quality research, to which the Centre has a strong commitment. I'm really proud of the strength of this aspect of the Centre's work.”
Kay Boycott, Asthma UK’s Chief Executive, says: “The introduction into clinical use of the pressurised metered-dose inhaler (pMDI) - the first modern inhaler for asthma management – took over 40 years from initial lab discovery through clinical trials and into practice. 
“More than half a century later asthma still kills and there are tens of thousands of people with asthma facing a daily struggle to breathe. This is why it is so vital for Asthma UK to invest significantly in the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research and to kick start a new era of improved discovery-to-treatment times.”
The Centre is led by is led by Professors Aziz Sheikh and Chris Griffiths, two of the UK’s most talented experts in applied asthma research.
Centre Director Aziz Sheikh says: “The Centre addresses a very real need for collaborative research that can facilitate large-scale trials which have potential to benefit the millions of people affected by asthma. I am delighted that some of the UK’s top asthma researchers are contributing to this unprecedented initiative where they can share expertise and insights to drive forward major improvements in asthma care provision and better outcomes for our patients.”
Centre Co-Director Chris Griffiths says: “The recent National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) reports the urgent need to improve asthma care. The opening of the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research is perfectly-timed and marks a significant step forward in delivering world-class applied research to improve asthma care and reduce asthma deaths and hospitalisation in the UK.”

Notes for editors

(Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)


For interviews with spokespeople, please call the Asthma Centre Media Office on 020 7786 4949 or email mediaoffice@asthma.org.uk. Please call 07951 721393 out of hours.

For Manchester interviews, please contact Alison Barbuti, Media Relations Officer, 0161 275 8383 or email alison.barbuti@manchester.ac.uk.