Major international study to shape future of asthma treatment

Researchers from the University of Plymouth are part of a major international study to assess the benefits of new medications for asthma.

Led by Plymouth Marjon University, the study is looking for people with asthma to complete an anonymous online survey (participants must be 18 years or older and regularly be prescribed preventer inhalers for asthma).

Over 18 and have asthma? Take part in the study

The survey answers will inform the creation of a new asthma questionnaire, the Generic Asthma Questionnaire, for patients with mild to moderate asthma, to get a full picture of how the condition impacts their quality of life. It follows on from the Severe Asthma Questionnaire (SAQ), an existing research programme led by the University of Plymouth for patients with severe asthma, which is now being used in international studies.

Why is the new study taking place?

Biologics are new medications for asthma that interrupt the inflammatory pathways in the condition. They can only be provided by a specialist and are given by injection every month or two. So far, biologics have been used to treat severe asthma but now attention is turning to how they might help in patients with mild to moderate asthma. Potentially, if biologics were more widely available, then many people could benefit from improved asthma control, with less reliance on the use of steroid treatments (which are effective but with many side effects).

The new questionnaire, when developed, will be used in large international clinical trials of new biologic treatments for asthma. Fourteen European universities are collaborating on this stage of the project, alongside Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust the University of Exeter.

What the experts say

Study lead, Rupert Jones, Honorary Professor at Plymouth Marjon University and Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Plymouth, said: 

“Most of us know someone with asthma and, while lots of cases are relatively well managed, the condition can have varying impacts on people’s quality of life. Trials of biologics show big improvements in asthma attacks, lung function and reduction of hospital admissions. They are very well tolerated and seem to be very safe.

“Other studies, however, have reported a mixed or negative picture of the quality of life associated with these medications – so it’s important that we shape and develop the right questionnaire, asking the right questions, to properly assess how effective they are for people with mild to moderate asthma.

“The Severe Asthma Questionnaire is on the way to doing this for those with severe asthma, and we’re looking forward to developing the Generic Asthma Questionnaire to go alongside it."

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