A new research centre to improve the lives of people with asthma was launched on 13 May, bringing together experts from across the UK to find better treatments and make them available faster than ever before. The University of Bristol is one of 13 academic and NHS organisations working together to form the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research.
More than five million people in the UK are affected by asthma yet research into this life-threatening condition is chronically underfunded, taking an average of 17 years currently to develop a new asthma treatment.
Asthma UK's vision for this pioneering, multidisciplinary research initiative is to halve the time it takes to get innovations to people with asthma and to develop the next generation of world class applied asthma researchers.
Bristol University will be hosting clinical trials and also looking at how to improve people's adherence to asthma treatments, working with colleagues in Scotland to investigate the effects of prescription charging.
Professors John Henderson and Alastair Hay, from the School of Social and Community Medicine, are leading the University's work within the centre. Alastair Hay is also Director of the Respiratory Infections Health Integration Team.
Professor Henderson, Professor of Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, said: "The Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research is a unique model that will bring together the UK's foremost scientists in clinical asthma research to provide a pipeline for the rapid translation of research knowledge, in which we are world-leading, to interventions and policies that will make a real difference to the lives of people with asthma."
The centre is led by Professors Aziz Sheikh and Chris Griffiths, two of the UK's most talented experts in applied asthma research; it is co-ordinated through the University of Edinburgh and Queen Mary, University of London.
It will focus on community-based research where a drug, treatment or intervention is tested practically through clinical trials involving hundreds or thousands of people, often leading directly to improved care.
Kay Boycott, Asthma UK's Chief Executive, said: "The introduction into clinical use of the pressurised metered-dose inhaler (pMDI) - the first modern inhaler for asthma management - took over 40 years from initial lab discovery through clinical trials and into practice.
"More than half a century later asthma still kills and there are tens of thousands of people with asthma facing a daily struggle to breathe. This is why it is so vital for Asthma UK to invest significantly in the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research and to kick start a new era of improved discovery-to-treatment times."