Learn about our research achievements
Asthma UK funds world-leading research at the cutting-edge of science. Our research works towards:
better treatments and a cure
to improve diagnosis and the care that people with asthma receive.
A new drug to help people with severe asthma
There are 250,000 people with asthma so severe the standard steroid treatments don't work. Asthma UK invests in research which we hope will lead to new treatments that they can use.
Stopping dust mites from causing asthma
Clinical trials of a new asthma treatment may be just around the corner, leading to relief for the many people whose asthma is triggered by house dust mites, one of the most common asthma triggers.
With the support of Asthma UK between 1992-2007, Professor Clive Robinson and his team investigated why allergies to house dust mites cause asthma, resulting in the discovery of a way to block the allergy in the first place rather than treating the reaction. Based on their Asthma UK funded work, the Wellcome Trust has supported Prof Robinsons team with nearly 7 million to move the work towards clinical trials and the development of a new treatment that can benefit people with asthma.
Professor Robinson says, "The role of Asthma UK cannot be under-estimated. Without their vision and insight, promising research projects may never get off the ground. This is crucial if were to save lives in the future.
We're extremely grateful to both of the funders who have enabled our line of research to progress. I want to emphasise that funding from Asthma UK enabled everything that followed from our first discoveries. Without that, we would not be where we are today, on the threshold of an entirely new treatment that I hope, before too long, will be able to prevent asthma.
Possible new drug for asthma in 5 years?
In early 2015 you may have read in the news about a potential new drug for asthma.
In 2011 Asthma UK made a small Test of Concept grant to enable researchers to investigate the role of calcium in asthma a hitherto unexplored area. The result of this initial research led to a later, larger study between researchers at the MRC-Asthma UK Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma and Cardiff University, which established that people with asthma have more of a special type of calcium receptor in their lungs than people without asthma. These receptors, which sit on the surface of a cell, respond to chemicals in the environment such as pollution or allergic asthma triggers. They are called calcium-sensing receptors or CaSR for short.
The scientists behind this study are really excited because they have found that under lab conditions a class of drugs called calcilytics, (which were originally produced as a treatment for osteoporosis) block the CaSRs, making them less likely to respond to asthma triggers and cause asthma attacks. The next stage will be clinical trials and if the drugs work we could have a new treatment for asthma in as little as five years.
Professor Chris Corrigan says, "Funding from Asthma UK assisted us to establish that 'calcilytic' drugs, which block the calcium sensing receptor, can reverse or abolish twitchiness of the airways which are responsible for the symptoms of asthma. Existing drugs, such as preventer inhalers, address this problem only indirectly by reducing inflammation of the airways which is thought to be one trigger for this twitchiness while reliever inhalers make the muscle cells relax, temporarily alleviating the blockage.
By using calcilytic drugs, we can potentially target the cause of the twitchiness rather than the reaction, regardless of what has caused it, and thus treat all asthma. The challenge now is to develop a form of these drugs which can be inhaled safely to the airways and then to explore their effects in people with asthma.