Asthma UK are involved in a large project called U-BIOPRED through the involvement of people with asthma, utilising the skills and experiences of our Research and Policy volunteers to impact on a project with the potential to change the way that people with severe asthma receive treatment in the future.
U-BIOPRED stands for 'Unbiased Biomarkers for the Prediction of Respiratory Disease Outcomes'. This is the technical name for the 5-year project (2010-2015), which aims:
- to understand more about severe asthma
- to determine how it differs from person to person
- to uncover new information and ideas that could lead to the creation of effective new treatments
To achieve this UBIOPRED has brought together scientists from universities, research institutes, the pharmaceutical industry and small companies all across Europe.
Many people with severe asthma don't respond very well to currently available treatments, and researchers and healthcare professionals think that asthma isn't actually one condition and isn't the same in everyone with it although the symptoms may be similar. By investigating closer there should be things that we can measure, for example through blood tests or analysis of breath, that can help us to put people with severe asthma into different 'categories'. This will then help us with the development of future treatments as:
- a) from the things that we measure we'll understand more about what's going on in people's lungs and can use this to develop better treatments;
- b) we'll be able to test the right potential treatment on the right people to see if it works; and
- c) we'll eventually have a range of different treatments and will be able to design someone's treatment based on the type of asthma that they have.
Our volunteers have taken the perspective of people with asthma to the research project, ensuring that it's realistic and always focuses on the benefits for people with asthma.
The project is now coming to an end and has resulted in the development of a 'handprint' for different types of severe asthma that people can be categorised to have.
The real test will come now, as this system is used to categorise people with asthma to better understand their asthma, and in clinical trials to see if using these methods results in better, more specific treatments for severe asthma.
Although the project is nearly officially over, the researchers involved will continue to input into a variety of different projects to ensure that all of the work is used for the benefit of people with asthma in the future. This includes the continued involvement of Asthma UK and our Research and Policy volunteers.
That means that Asthma UK will continue to follow where the outcomes from the U-BIOPRED project are used, and will continue to enable people with asthma to influence studies and trials where the information is used to further our knowledge. One such project using the outcomes from U-BIOPRED, and that our volunteers are already influencing, is the RASP-UK project.
Projects like U-BIOPRED show the potential for asthma research when researchers work together, and the ways that Asthma UK can help to influence much more research than we are able to fund for the benefit of people with asthma.
To find out how to get involved with projects like this as a Research and Policy volunteer, read more about the role.