The 21st century challenge of developing accurate asthma diagnostics

Asthma UK is working with Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network to tackle the problem of accurately diagnosing asthma

We are bringing together leading academics, SMEs, pharmaceutical companies, and funding organisations in a meeting to try and crack the challenge of developing accurate, low-cost asthma diagnostic tools that are fit for 21st-century health care.

Despite decades of pioneering asthma research, we still do not have an objective diagnostic test for asthma. Tests that are available now are not reliable enough, do not work for children under five and cannot identify what type of asthma someone has. As a result, asthma often goes undiagnosed or is mistaken for another condition, causing confusion and anxiety for people with asthma and the parents of children with asthma. This is not good enough for other diseases and isn’t good enough for asthma.

We think that developing an affordable and accurate asthma diagnostic tests is achievable because of our work with the European Asthma Research and Innovation Partnership (EARIP). However, for this to happen, academics, pharmaceutical companies, and diagnostics companies need to collaborate and tackle the 21st-century challenge of asthma diagnosis together.

On Monday 17 July, Asthma UK, in partnership with Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network, is holding an event with aim of forming these collaborations. It will bring together one hundred diagnostics experts from across Europe to tackle three challenges:

  • How can we develop tests that accurately identify different types of asthma?
  • How can we develop a test that predicts the likelihood of asthma developing in children and its trajectory over time?
  • How can we improve the diagnostic tools we already have, using new technologies and platforms?

Prominent scientists from the NHS, the Department of Health, and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden will speak about the importance of asthma diagnosis and its role in being able to personalise asthma treatment through better diagnosis. They will be joined by representatives from a wide range of sectors including diagnostics companies, academia, and people with asthma. These experts will discuss the opportunities to form new research collaborations so that an accurate asthma diagnostic test can be developed and made available to people with asthma as quickly as possible.

Developing tools that can provide a more accurate diagnosis of asthma for over 300 million people globally is an enormous opportunity. A more accurate understanding of the different types of asthma should allow people to be diagnosed with a specific type of asthma and receive personalised treatment to control symptoms. For the majority of people with asthma, receiving treatment for their specific type of asthma would mean the ability to enjoy each day to its fullest, without the impact of sleepless nights, breathlessness, missing school or having to take sick leave, and the risk of death.

If you would like to receive information on the event, please contact research@asthma.org.uk. If you would like to find out more about our research please see our research strategy.