Opportunities to get involved in our research

Find out about trials and studies that you can help out with as an Asthma UK Research and Policy volunteer.

 

Contribute to the development of the first interactive smartphone asthma action plan app for the NHS

Lay study title: Pulmonis - Digitalising the Action Plan into an Interactive, Personalised Smartphone Companion

Institution: Imperial College London

About the study: Presently asthma patients within the UK are provided with a paper Personalised Asthma Action Plan (PAAP) to support their self-management. Despite evidence suggesting its use reduces the risk of hospitalisation by up to four times, long term use of the plan is limited. Furthermore, doctors and nurses are currently not equipped with the tools to accurately assess patient’s asthma trends outside the clinical environment. Smartphone devices with well-designed eHealth applications have been shown to improve patient outcomes by positively changing health behaviour. Yet, research shows there are currently ‘no applications on the market which combine reliable, accurate and supportive tools for self-management’ 

Researchers at Imperial College London have teamed up with an award-winning design studio and Asthma UK to develop a unique asthma management app for iPhone called Pulmonis. Underpinned by the validated Asthma UK Action Plan, Pulmonis will become the first low-cost digital asthma companion of its kind, detecting deteriorations earlier and supporting asthma patients every step of the way.

As a project driven by the end-users’ needs, we want to involve people like you from the very beginning, until the very end of development.

When will this study be recruiting? The study recruitment will start in August 2017 

Who can take part? We would like to recruit people with asthma based in London who are both:

  1.  Aged 18+
  2. Newly diagnosed (Diagnosed within the last 1 year) and/or Asthma of any severity

What will participants be asked to do? If you volunteer to help us, you will be invited to at least two group or individual discussion sessions at Imperial College’s South Kensington Campus. We want to understand how newly diagnosed and people with different severities of asthma approach their self-management. During these sessions, we will show you exciting app prototypes to learn what works well and what needs modification to make an app that is acceptable and suitable for long-term use

Who is conducting the research? The qualitative research will be conducted by Dr. Anna De Simoni, Dr. James Moss and Mr Uddhav Vaghela, with supervision by Professor Andrew Bush (Royal Brompton and Harefield Trust) and Professor Martyn Partridge.  

Who has reviewed the study? This project is funded by an Asthma UK Innovation Peer-Reviewed Grant and has been reviewed by Imperial College’s Research Ethics Committee. We have been given favourable review and have received ethical approval.

How will the study benefit people with asthma? The key output of this project - Pulmonis - could offer a low-cost, more accurate and simplified way to approach asthma self-management. We envisage it as being a ‘bridging tool’, supporting newly diagnosed patients form an independent routine and assisting those with poorly controlled asthma better respond to the early signs of deteriorations. For doctors and nurses, this app will greatly inform their clinical decision-making in ways not possible before.

Expenses: Refreshments will be provided at all discussion sessions. Travel cost reimbursements will be considered and covered upon request.

What next / who to contact: To find out more about the Pulmonis project, please contact Uddhav Vaghela:

Euddhav.vaghela14@imperial.ac.uk / T: 07999412262

 

Take part in a study looking at new causes of exercise induced asthma

Lay study title:  Lung function and inflammation in exercise-induced asthma

Institution: Royal Brompton Hospital and Imperial College London

About the study: Exercise induced asthma (EIA) is defined as the acute airway narrowing that occurs as a result of intense physical activity and is often associated with frequent respiratory infections representing a significant risk factor for asthma attacks. EIA has been reported in up to 90% of people with asthma, as a sign of poor disease control, although it may develop even in subjects without evident clinical disease, being particularly frequent in athletes (even over 50%). Despite a large proportion of EIA patients being characterized by having signs of allergy and thus asthma, many do not present any evidence of allergy.

This research aims to assess functional, inflammatory and biological markers of non-allergic exercise induced asthma. Prevalence, features and causes of asthma attacks will be also evaluated. The data collected in this study is expected to contribute to an improved assessment and management of EIA, as well as to a better knowledge of the features and role of asthm attacks in these patients. A proper distinction between allergic and non-allergic people with EIA would also have a very relevant clinical impact. In fact, while several therapies are available or under development for a “personalized medicine” in allergic asthma, no tailored approach is currently possible for non-allergic asthma.

When will this study be recruiting?  January – July 2017

What will participants be asked to do? This research occurs alongside your normal asthma plan. Participation in this research will not therefore negatively affect your asthma in any way. Study visits and procedures will be performed in the Biomedical Respiratory Unit (BRU) of the Royal Brompton Hospital.

This is a research study including 3 visits across a 4-week time period followed by a 52 week follow up (total study length 56 weeks).

At visit 1 (screening), after having signed informed consent, you will undergo a simple non-invasive lung function test (spirometry) at rest and an exercise challenge. If eligible for the study you will be tested for a broad set of biological markers in order to determine if you are an allergic or non-allergic patient.

After 2 weeks from your first visit, you will undergo two exercise challenges (on different visits). Each visit will take no longer than 2 hours.

Who can take part? The study team are looking for non-smoking male and female people with asthma who do regular exercise, are aged 18-65, and who have had exercise-induced asthma before.

Who has reviewed the study? The study was given favourable review by a Research Ethics Committee.

How will the study benefit people with asthma? Participants will have the opportunity to undergo a free thorough 'health-check' with a team of experts in asthma in a healthcare centre of excellence. Study results may also provide contribute to an improved assessment and management of exercise-induced asthma.

Expenses: Travel costs will be covered upon request.

What next / who to contact: For more information, contact Dr Matteo Bonini, Research Fellow at the Imperial College Airways Division:

E: m.bonini@imperial.ac.uk / T: 07889 635702

 

Participate in the myAirCoach research project investigating the use of home-monitoring and mobile health systems for asthma self-management

We would like to invite you to take part in a research project investigating the use of home-monitoring and mobile health (mHealth) systems for asthma self-management.

Asthma UK is working with a group of researchers to develop a new mHealth system designed specifically to help people with asthma to self-manage their condition.

Asthma is a variable lung condition whereby patients experience periods of controlled and uncontrolled asthma symptoms. Poor asthma control is associated with an increased risk of exacerbation, impaired quality of life, increased use of healthcare services and reduced productivity. Therefore, the ability to determine and to predict the level of asthma control is useful for patients and their healthcare teams, and may assist in the management of the condition.

There are now a variety of home monitoring and mobile health (mHealth) systems for patients with asthma. This research aims to determine the feasibility of using these systems and to establish whether they could be used, individually or in combination, to predict asthma control. The outcome of this research could be integrated into new mHealth systems that may assist patients to better manage their asthma in the future.

Who can take part? We are looking to recruit adults who have asthma of every severity. In total we require 100 participants, 50 based in London and 50 in Manchester.

What will I be asked to do? This research occurs alongside your normal asthma care plan. This means that you will continue to attend your normal GP and hospital appointments and will continue to take your medication as necessary and as determined by your usual healthcare team. In addition to your normal asthma care, we will ask you to attend a single hospital-based induction visit and to monitor your asthma with a variety of mHealth and home-monitoring systems for a one year period.

When will this study be recruiting? Recruitment is ongoing.

Who is conducting the research? This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation under grant agreement no 643607 (http://www.myaircoach.eu/myaircoach).

The project team is a multi-disciplinary group of specialists in asthma, computer modelling, health technology and patient involvement.

This particular research project is being run by Dr Stephen Fowler and Dr Andrew Simpson at the University Hospital of South Manchester and by Prof. Fan Chung, Dr Omar Usmani and Dr Matteo Bonini at the Royal Brompton Hospital, Imperial College of London.

Who has reviewed the study? This research project has been reviewed by an independent group of people – a research ethics committee (REC) - to protect your rights, safety and well-being. This study was given favourable review and has received ethical approval.

How will the study benefit people with asthma?

By participating in this research you will learn more about different home-monitoring and mHealth systems that are currently available for patients with asthma and hopefully improve your asthma management. This project will also help us to design a new mHealth system for people with asthma, which could benefit the lives of millions of people in the future.

Expenses: We will provide patients with a reimbursement of £100 for their participation, when at the end of the study they will return all the used devices. However, as an alternative we provide participants with the opportunity to keep the iPod they have used during the study. Participants will also be reimbursed up to £50 for travel expenses.

How to get involved: To register your interest in taking part or if you would like to know anything else, please contact:

For Manchester: Andrew Simpson
E: andrew.simpson-2@manchester.ac.uk
T: 0161 291 5908

For London: Matteo Bonini
E: m.bonini@imperial.ac.uk
T: 07889635702

Once the study team have received notification of your interest they will send you a participation information sheet and contact you via phone to discuss the details of the research in person.

 

Take part in a study exploring how a face mask might help people with asthma undertake exercise

Lay study title: The Use of a Face Mask During Exercise to Improve the Airway Health of Individuals with Asthma

Institution: The study will take place at the University of Kent, Chatham Maritime, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4AG.

About the study: Physical activity in cold dry environments exacerbates symptoms for many individuals with asthma resulting in greater avoidance of physical activity during the winter months. The increased risk of asthma from exercising in cold environments has led to Asthma UK advising susceptible individuals to avoid exercise outside in cold environments (http://www.asthma.org.uk/advice-exercise). This places obvious constraints and limitations on individuals with asthma for whom the aim of optimum treatment is to allow them to follow a “normal” lifestyle. Indeed, exposure to cold air on exertion is relevant to a significant proportion of individuals with asthma who engage with outdoor physical activity as part of their daily routine; e.g. cycle-commuting to work; outdoor construction workers.

A mask that is able to warm and humidify the air during exercise may provide a solution for people with asthma susceptible to cold dry environments. There are a limited number of small studies that provide tentative evidence suggesting masks which warm and humidify air can protect against reductions in lung function during and following physical activity. However, it is unknown whether the use of these masks provides protection against the mechanisms that drive asthma symptoms. It is also unclear whether using the masks over a prolonged period of time significantly reduces asthma severity, inhaler use, or presence of symptoms.

The overall aim of this study is to determine if face masks that can warm and humidify air can improve overall asthma control and markers of airway health during exercise in cold, dry environments. The researchers will investigate the potential protective benefits of the face masks against exercise induced asthma during 1) a “one-off” bout of exercise in a cold dry environment and 2) over the course of a four week period, exercising three times per week in a cold dry environment.

Type of opportunity: Volunteers are being invited to participate directly in the study.

When will this study be recruiting?: Recruitment will commence in October 2016 and will continue to May 2017.

What will participants be asked to do?: If you decide to take part, you will be invited to attend the University of Kent sport and exercise science laboratories in Medway Park Sports Centre for a total of 20 occasions. On your first visit you will be asked to complete an incremental cycling challenge to the point where you can’t maintain your pedalling cadence or you reach volitional exhaustion (VO2 peak test). During this test you will wear a mask which will sample the air you are breathing so we can measure how much oxygen you are consuming and carbon dioxide you are producing. Visits two to four will involve you completing a cycling exercise challenge (9 minutes of high intensity exercise) in a cold (8oC) and dry (30 % humidity) environment. During the visits you have your maximal lung function measured before and after the exercise. At these visits you will be asked to wear two different types of masks and once without a mask.

Visits five to 16 will take place over 4 weeks and involve you attending three 30 minute training sessions a week at the Sports Science Laboratory. These exercise sessions will involve cycling at approximately 60 - 70% of your maximal peak power for 30 minutes. At each exercise session you will be asked to either exercise with one of two masks or without a mask. At each training session the study team will monitor you heart rate and ask you to rate how hard you found each session. The study team will also monitor your lung function once a week over the four weeks.

Visits 17-20 will replicate the testing carried out in visits 1-4.

In addition, you will be asked to wear a cough recording monitor for six separate 24 hour periods.

Over the course of the study you will need to commit 20 hours plus an additional 24 hours of wearing the cough monitor.

Who can take part?: The researchers would like to recruit females and males aged between 18-45 years with a clinician’s diagnosis of asthma or exercise induced asthma. Potential participants should be otherwise fit and healthy and already engage in regular exercise (at least twice per week or more).

You will not be able to participate if you:

  • have had a chest infection with in the past 4 weeks or any other illnesses in the 2 weeks prior to the tests
  • have another chronic respiratory disease e.g. COPD
  • have a cardiovascular problem e.g. high blood pressure
  • have a metabolic disease (e.g. diabetes)
  • have a neurological condition (e.g. epilepsy),
  • are pregnant
  • are injured or if you have any conditions that limit mobility.
  • if you have been hospitalised due to your asthma in the last 6 months
  • are currently taking oral corticosteroid medication

Who is conducting the research?: Dr. John Dickinson from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Kent is leading the research study. Dr Dickson is a leading expert on asthma and exercise.

Who has reviewed the study?: This study is funded by an Asthma UK Innovation Grant. The research project has been ethically approved by the University of Kent Science Faculty Ethics Committee.

How will the study benefit people with asthma?: Cold dry environments can form barriers to engaging in a physically active life style for many individuals with asthma. The findings from the proposed study will provide a clear indication whether a face mask can be an immediate solution to overcoming risks and fears of increased asthma attacks from physical activity in cold environments. Reductions in the occurrence of asthma episodes in the winter months from the use of face masks would mean individuals with asthma can enjoy outdoor activities (such as family winter walks, cycling to work or working outdoors) all year around rather than worrying what the weather might be like on certain days of the year. By using the face masks during the winter, individuals with asthma will potentially increase their physical activity levels whilst reducing asthma exacerbations, severity, and symptoms. This will have secondary effects such as improved general fitness, greater social wellbeing, greater control of breathing, and reduced chance of developing comorbidities such as cardiovascular or metabolic diseases.

Expenses: You will get a free respiratory assessment, a free volitional exhaustion test (also known as aVO2 max test) which will determine what your peak level of exertion is. You will also discover whether wearing a mask whilst exercising in the cold may be beneficial for you. To compensate you for your time we will also offer you £150 on completion of all trials, and you will be reimbursed your travel expenses.

What next / who to contact: If you meet the requirements stated above and you want to be a part of this study, or if you have any further questions please contact Dr John Dickinson, study lead at:

E: J.W.Dickinson@kent.ac.uk /  T: 01634 202998 

 

Be a patient advisor to a clinical trial looking at a new drug for asthma

Lay study title: ‘Patient input to a study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of VR942 administered twice daily to subjects with uncontrolled asthma.’

Institution: This opportunity is being led by the pharmaceutical company Vectura Limited, one of Asthma UK’s corporate partners who regularly take part in the Race Across America to raise money for Asthma UK.

About the study: Vectura is looking for up to 5 patient advisors to provide some vital patient input on an upcoming phase II clinical trial, which will eventually test the effectiveness of a new drug for poorly controlled asthma called VR942. 

As a patient advisor, you will have the chance to comment on the study design, ensuring that the study is appropriate for people with asthma to take part, as well as help to produce materials related to the study for the eventual participants of the trial. 

The patient advisor role can be undertaken remotely via computer, and offers a rare and excellent opportunity to contribute to research funded by the pharmaceutical industry.

Type of opportunity: Volunteers will be consulted on their views and be asked to comment on documents and provide feedback to the study leads.

When will this study be recruiting?  Vecutra are looking for patient advisors now.

Who has reviewed the study? This study has not yet been reviewed by an ethics committee, however your patient input will help make this study more relevant and appropriate for patients to take part.

How will the study benefit people with asthma?: Asthma affects 5.4 million people in the UK, but new asthma drugs need to be tested for their effectiveness. However, ensuring that people with asthma can safely participate in clinical trials, and that the trial is designed appropriately for patients, is a very important part of clinical research. Patient advisors can provide a unique perspective on ensuring people with asthma and their conditions are considered in the design of a study.

Expenses: The opportunity to be involved can be conducted remotely, however expenses to allow for travel to meetings will be paid.

What next / who to contact: If you would like to be a patient advisor to this study, or if you would like more information, please contact Karim Bagate, Vectura’s study manager:

E: karim.bagate@vectura.com