Clinical Academic Training


Diagnosing, monitoring and phenotyping asthma

  • Dr Erol Gaillard

Asthma is the commonest non-communicable disease in children. In the UK approximately 1 million children receive treatment for asthma. Compared to European children, UK children have worse outcomes for asthma attacks and asthma deaths.

Diagnosing, monitoring and phenotyping asthma in children is challenging because of the difficulty in obtaining semi-invasive blood and sputum samples, especially when repeat sampling or testing is required. This means that few children have a diagnosis of asthma that is backed up by objective evidence as mandated in UK national NICE asthma guidelines to bring down levels of misdiagnosis. Those with a diagnosis require monitoring and phenotyping to deliver the right treatment to the right patient at the right time. Non-invasive sampling methods such as breath collection holds significant promise in children especially if a test could be developed for use in primary care.

Following the successful East Midlands Breathomics Pathology Node project measuring VOCs in adults and children with breathlessness Leicester University is at the forefront of breath research in Europe. Our group has expertise in the characterisation of volatile organic compounds from patients with respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and has developed mass spectrometry tools and GC-GC data analysis tools that hold promise for improving the quality of breath diagnostics in adults and children.

The University is nationally and internationally renowned for breathomics medicine, with a world-class infrastructure including a NIHR BRC. Professors Monks and Siddiqui and Dr Gaillard have a strong track records of supervising ACFs and PhDs, and have authored high-impact publications.


  • Zhao B, Bryant L, Cordell R, Wilde M, Salman D, Ruszkiewicz D, Ibrahim W, Singapuri A, Coats T, Gaillard E, Beardsmore C, Suzuki T, Ng L, Greening N, Thomas P, Monks P, Brightling C, Siddiqui S, Free RC. LabPipe: an extensible bioinformatics toolkit to manage experimental data and metadata. BMC Bioinformatics. 2020;21:556. doi: 10.1186
  • Holden KA, Ibrahim W, Salman D, Cordell R, McNally T, Patel B, Phillips R, Beardsmore C, Wilde M, Bryant L, Singapuri A, Monks P, Brightling C, Greening N, Thomas P, Siddiqui S, Gaillard EA. Use of the ReCIVA device in breath sampling of patients with acute breathlessness: a feasibility study. ERJ Open Res. 2020 Nov 23;6(4):00119-2020. doi: 10.1183/23120541.00119-2020. eCollection 2020 Oct.PMID:33263021
  • Ibrahim W, Wilde M, Cordell R, Salman D, Ruszkiewicz D, Bryant L, Richardson M, Free RC, Zhao B, Yousuf A, White C, Russell R, Jones S, Patel B, Awal A, Phillips R, Fowkes G, McNally T, Foxon C, Bhatt H, Peltrini R, Singapuri A, Hargadon B, Suzuki T, Ng LL, Gaillard E, Beardsmore C, Ryanna K, Pandya H, Coates T, Monks PS, Greening N, Brightling CE, Thomas P, Siddiqui S.  Assessment of breath volatile organic compounds in acute cardiorespiratory breathlessness: a protocol describing a prospective real-world observational study. BMJ Open. 2019 Mar 8;9:e025486
  • Wilde MJ, Cordell RL, Salman D, Zhao B, Ibrahim W, Bryant L, Ruszkiewicz D, Singapuri A, Free RC, Gaillard EA, Beardsmore C, Thomas CLP, Brightling CE, Siddiqui S, Monks PS. Breath analysis by two-dimensional gas chromatography with dual flame ionisation and mass spectrometric detection - Method optimisation and integration within a large-scale clinical study. J Chromatogr A. 2019;1594:160-172
  • Peltrini R, Cordell R, Ibrahim W, Wilde M, Salman D, Singapuri A, Hargadon B, Brightling CE, Thomas CLP,Monks P, Siddiqui S. Volatile organic compounds in a headspace sampling system and asthmatics sputum samples. J Breath Res. 2020 Nov 23. doi: 10.1088/1752-7163/abcd2a. PMID:33227714

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