Women are more likely to have asthma, have more severe symptoms, and are more likely to die from their asthma. Many women experience a significant worsening of symptoms around menstruation and are at risk of potentially fatal asthma attacks every month. Yet despite this being the experience for many women around the world there has been very little research to understand why.
Asthma + Lung UK wants to see this change. If collective effort is applied to a global problem – as has been seen in response to Covid – lives can be saved. That’s why we brought together leading scientists, funders and pharmaceutical companies at a meeting to discuss how to transform outcomes for women with asthma.
At the meeting, participants discussed four promising areas that may hold the key to improving the lives of women with asthma:
- Sex hormones and airway inflammation
- Sex hormones and airway structure/function
- Sex hormones and obesity-linked asthma
- Androgens as a potential therapeutic target for asthma
Following the discussion, colleagues contributed to our report and identified key research questions for each area.
Improving the lives of millions of women with asthma
This report summarises the discussion and calls for new, international effort across disciplines – from endocrinologists to femtech innovators . Taking forward the science on sex hormones and asthma will require significant public and private investment.
Asthma + Lung UK are calling for the following steps to accelerate research and improve outcomes for women with asthma:
- Immediate large-scale public funding call: to investigate the influence of sex and gender differences on adult asthma.
- Fund a global team science approach: develop a new, international funding call for a public-private consortium
- Look for sex inequality: mandate all future studies to analyse their datasets by sex to identify differences.
Researchers, innovators and industry
- Map the way forward: publish a scientific roadmap for investigating sex hormones and asthma in women, identifying key research questions with clear diagnostic and therapeutic goals.
- Create cross-disciplinary collaborations: drive the development of new collaborations across disciplines, particularly endocrinology.
- Engage innovators: leverage data collected by digital health companies who are supporting women through their menstrual cycles.