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Asthma needs research

Campaigning to increase investment in asthma research

Every ten seconds someone in the UK has a potentially life-threatening asthma attack and three people die every day.

Tragically two thirds of these deaths could be prevented, whilst others still suffer with asthma so severe current treatments don't work.

This has to change. That's why Asthma UK exists. We work to stop asthma attacks and, ultimately, cure asthma by funding world leading research and scientists, campaigning for change and supporting people with asthma to reduce their risk of a potentially life threatening asthma attack.

We want to see more funding into asthma research.

We want to create the research environment necessary in the UK (and Europe) to drive improvements in asthma care and investment in asthma research and development (R&D). 

The global prevalence of asthma is increasing at astonishing levels, in Western Europe, asthma has doubled in ten years, and the global prevalence of asthma is expected to grow from 300 million to over 400 million over the next decade, fuelled by increased urbanisation and pollution. India and China are experiencing particularly rapid increases in asthma; China now has 30 million people with asthma, and estimates suggest that the rates increased by as much as 40 percent between 2008-2013.  

Asthma science is on the cusp of new frontiers in personalised medicine, genomics, biomarkers and phenotyping, research in these areas has the potential to stimulate new products for the large and growing global market for asthma diagnostics, technology enabled self-management tools, and treatments to reduce asthma attacks. 

Look at what else we’ve achieved so far

Severe Asthma

Around 200,000-250,000 people in the UK have asthma so severe that there are currently no effective treatments.

Without treatment options people are reliant on high doses of inhaled or oral corticosteroids with immediate and long term side effects which have a significant effect on their quality of life. Reducing use of steroids is a top priority for people with severe asthma.

We need more research to find effective treatments and stop life threatening asthma attacks. Read our report on pioneering research areas for severe asthma. 


There is not a single test to diagnose asthma.

Recent developments in stratified medicine and the understanding that there are different types of asthma present an opportunity to create new ways to diagnose them.

We need more research into diagnostics to help us develop better and more accurate treatments that will support people with asthma through their entire lives.

“Imagine a world where asthma can be diagnosed with a single, simple, accurate and cost effective test. Misdiagnosis could be a thing of the past and patient's lives could be dramatically improved.

Through applied research into genomics and biomarkers we may not have to imagine.”

Dr Louise Fleming - Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

Technology-enabled asthma management

Asthma can be the model for tech-enabled care and self-management. 80% of people could self-manage primarily through better adherence to treatment.

The global market for for digital health is expected to be £43bn by 2018 and with increasing pressures on the NHS we need better ways to support patients with asthma. We can improve outcomes and generate growth for the creative and digital sectors.

“Imagine the possibilities for improving patients outcomes if there were to exist a suite of effective m-health and digital health solutions, supported by prescriptive algorithms, built on real-time health informatics, designed to support patients to identify when they are at risk of an asthma attack, before symptoms present allowing them to prevent, manage and control their condition. With revolutions in big data and the advancement of digital technologies we may not have to imagine.”

Professor Aziz Sheikh, Co-Director of the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research and Professor of Primary Care Research & Development at the University of Edinburgh

Our progress

We urgently need more investment for asthma research. We have been working with government’s, industry, pharmaceuticals and clinicians to help us provide a better future for people living with asthma.

We have held events with the Northern Health Strategic Alliance and the Scottish Cross Party Group.