A step closer to personalised medicine for severe asthma

An international study looking at personalised medicine for patients with severe asthma has been awarded £2.3 million from the Medical Research Council.

The PRISM study (Precision Intervention in Severe asthma) aims to introduce personalised medicine to ensure the right medications are prescribed to the right patients. The PRISM study aims to better characterise the type of asthma in each individual by using their unique makeup of genes and proteins, to develop biomarkers that are more accurate than the blood eosinophil count, in predicting good response to biologic treatments.

For those patients for whom current treatments do not work, the researchers hope new, more effective treatments will be developed from a better understanding of what is making their asthma severe.

Professor Fan Chung, a respiratory consultant at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London, is leading the study.

He said:

“The PRISM project will bring hope for patients suffering from severe asthma by improving the doctor’s diagnosis of the type of severe asthma they are suffering from. This will ultimately lead to better treatments at a personalised level for every patient suffering from this often very disabling condition.”

 Trust co-funds 10 respiratory projects

Research looking into Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) are just some of the projects that have been awarded funding via a joint funding call from Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (ICHT).

Funding for the Biomedical Research Centre is for 5 years (2017-2022) and aims to support first-time trials of new discoveries, treatments and technologies in patients, to improve healthcare.

The Trust is well-positioned as a world-leading hospital for respiratory diseases, with a unique population of patients and many internationally recognised clinicians. Imperial College and ICHT will be applying for BRC status for 2022-2027 and the Trust will collaborate with them to develop a strong respiratory theme.

10 projects were selected to receive up to £25,000 in funding, all of which demonstrated clear objectives that aligned with the key priority areas for respiratory disease.

Some examples of the projects which will be funded by this are: ‘Telomere length and Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis,’ led by Dr Deborah Morris-Rosendahl; ‘How exposure in infants affects respiratory health in adulthood,’ led by Dr James Allinson; and ‘Wheeze in Children,’ led by Dr James Harker.

More research funding into keyhole surgery for atrial fibrillation

A research project comparing two types of surgical techniques for patients with long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation (LSPAF) has been awarded further funding to determine the long-term effects in patients.

The project, led by Dr Tom Wong, a cardiologist at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research and will compare catheter ablation to thoracoscopic surgical ablation for the treatment of LSPAF.

The longer a person has atrial fibrillation, the more difficult it is to go back to a normal heart rhythm. Those who have continuous atrial fibrillation for longer than a year are described as having LSPAF. With the additional funding, Dr Wong’s team will monitor patients from the original research study who already have a small device implanted under the skin to measure their heartbeat.

This additional data will allow the research team to determine conclusively if thoracoscopic surgical ablation is better for patients with LSPAF compared with catheter ablation in the long term.

International recognition for Harefield research team

It has been a period of successes for the respiratory research group at Harefield Hospital, who have been recognised both nationally and internationally, for their work on pulmonary rehabilitation and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

One project, led by Jessica Walsh, working with Dr William Man, was awarded ‘Best Abstract’ under the category of rehabilitation and chronic care at the European Respiratory Society conference.

The conference showcases the best of respiratory medicine research. Dr Man’s extensive work on pulmonary rehabilitation has also been recognised with his appointment as co-chair for the British Thoracic Society Pulmonary Rehabilitation Guidelines Development group, which will review the latest scientific evidence over the next 18 months in order to produce clinical practice recommendations.

“The British Thoracic Society guidelines are very well respected and widely read across the world. I am delighted to be able to contribute to these guidelines which should be a valuable resource for those providing pulmonary rehabilitation in the UK and beyond,” Dr Man said.