Press release - Wales has the potential to lead the world in asthma research

29 June 2016

An event to showcase the amazing potential and opportunity of increasing investment in asthma research in Wales took place at the National Assembly for Wales today.   

In Wales, nearly 314,000 people (1 in 10) have their lives affected by asthma on a daily basis including 59,000 children, yet the last great breakthrough for people with asthma was the inhaler. Wales also has the highest reported prevalence of asthma across the UK.  

There is an urgent need for funding in asthma research to unlock new treatments and eventually a cure, and Asthma UK is leading a campaign to increase investment in asthma research in Wales which is excellently placed to drive this research roadmap forwards.

Over the past three years, Asthma UK has brought together international asthma researchers to identify the most promising areas of asthma research; new ways to diagnose asthma, new treatments and using technology to manage asthma.

Wales has a world class reputation for research and has invested significantly in life sciences from the recent £100m Life Science Investment Fund through to the Institute of Life Science at Swansea University and the Life Sciences Hub in Cardiff.

Asthma UK has also part-funded research at Cardiff University into the potential root causes of asthma. For the first time, researchers identified the potential root cause of asthma by identifying which cells cause the airways to narrow when triggered by irritants like pollution. Crucially, existing drugs called calcilytics could offer new treatment. Funding is needed to take it further through clinical trials.  Five per cent of people with asthma don’t respond to treatments, so this research could be life changing for hundreds of thousands of people.

Expert speakers who attended the event included Professor Jonathan Bisson, Director of Health and Care Research Wales, Professor Daniela Riccardi who has led ground-breaking research on asthma at Cardiff University and Kay Boycott, Chief Executive at Asthma UK.

Julie James, Minister for Skills and Science, said: “With over 10 per cent of Wales’ population living with asthma, it is entirely right that we should encourage expanded research into this distressing condition, especially considering Wales’ excellent record on research into its causes and treatments.”

Kay Boycott, Chief Executive at Asthma UK, said: “We now have a one in a generation opportunity to attract investment for asthma research and accelerate much-needed breakthroughs. With its strong life sciences infrastructure and world class universities, we believe that Wales is well-placed to attract significant public and private investment in asthma research, which can deliver new treatments and digital health solutions for people with asthma.”

The event sought to take advantage of Wales’ position as a leader in health research and the next wave of life-changing research for people with asthma.

For further information about Asthma UK research visit our Asthma needs research webpage.

ENDS

Notes to editors

For more information please contact the Asthma UK media team on mediaoffice@asthma.org.uk, 020 7786 4949 (during office hours) or 07951 721393 (outside of office hours).

Asthma in Wales

Life sciences is one of the three grand challenges in the Welsh Government’s Science for Wales strategy (2012) with an ambition to establish Wales as one of the best environments in the world for life sciences innovation and deliver at least £1 billion of extra value in the sector in Wales by 2022.

A key step towards this ambition has been the development of the Life Sciences Hub, which brings together academic, business, clinical and professional services, and funding organisations, to provide a single site for the Welsh life sciences sector. The £100m Life Sciences Investment Fund – jointly funded by the Welsh Government and Arthurian Life Sciences – also highlighted the willingness to invest in the area of life sciences.

The Welsh Government’s Science for Wales strategy has set a goal of increasing funding from Research Councils to more than 5 per cent and proposes ways to increase the level of competitive funding won by Welsh universities including Ser Cymru (Star Wales), a £39m fund to expand Wales’ scientific research capacity.

Wales is home to world class universities and significant expertise in asthma. Swansea University is one of the leading universities in the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research, and last year researchers at Cardiff University – co-funded by Asthma UK – were responsible for ground-breaking discoveries that furthered our understanding of the potential root cause of asthma.

About Asthma UK 

  • Asthma UK’s mission is to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma. We do this by funding world leading research, campaigning for improved care and supporting people to reduce their risk of a potentially life threatening asthma attack.
  • Asthma UK is solely funded by public donations
  • The Asthma UK Helpline is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 0300 222 5800.
  • For more information about asthma please visit www.asthma.org.uk