Launch of new collaboration to tackle lung disease

Leicester and Nottingham have announced a new strategic research collaboration with GSK, using genetics to aid the development of new medicines for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and related airway disorders. The £1.24m investment over three years provides an East Midlands-focused boost to the Life Sciences Sector Deal of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy.

COPD affects around 65 million people worldwide, including 1.2 million people in the UK. It is a debilitating disease that causes narrowing of the airways leading to breathlessness and a greatly reduced quality of life. Smoking is a strong risk factor for COPD, but not all people affected by COPD are smokers and not all smokers develop the disease. In addition, amongst those who already have COPD, there is variation in severity of disease and how quickly the disease progresses. 

Scientists at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham will combine large-scale computational analyses and laboratory experiments to understand the genetic and biological reasons why some people with COPD experience frequent exacerbations and/or different rates of disease progression.

The research will provide valuable insight into disease pathology and, by working in partnership with scientists at GSK who will provide their drug discovery expertise, will accelerate discovery and development of innovative treatments for COPD and related airway diseases.

“We know that genetics plays an important role in determining who will develop COPD but we don’t yet understand why there is such variation in how severe the disease can be and why some people experience a more rapid worsening of symptoms than others," said Professor Louise Wain, British Lung Foundation Chair in Respiratory Research. "We’re excited to combine the translational research strengths of the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham, with those of GSK to benefit people living with COPD.”