Researchers identify common biological features of different types of asthma

Researchers have identified biological variations in lung tissue samples that for the first time can help identify people with mild asthma from those with moderate or severe asthma.

The team, led by Professors Salman Siddiqui and Peter Bradding from our Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, used state-of-the-art statistical methods involving visualisation approaches, to perform the largest comprehensive analysis of common pathological features in the airways of people with asthma of different severities. They also investigated the clinical features of these subtypes and whether there is any association with changes in genes and decline in lung function.

Professor Siddiqui and his team identified multiple biological ‘micro-clusters’ - which means that there are different combinations of active genes in each of the reported subtypes of asthma.

Professor Bradding, who is a Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Leicester and Consultant Respiratory Physician at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “The most exciting thing about finding these biological variations underpinning the differences between mild asthma and moderate and severe asthma is that the statistical methods if further developed could lead to the development of new, targeted treatments for subtypes of asthma, thus allowing  the right asthma treatments to be matched to different  patients. In this scenario, patients would benefit because they would be offered more personalised, and therefore more effective, care to manage their asthma.”

Professor Siddiqui, Professor of Airway Diseases at the University of Leicester and Consultant Respiratory Physician at Leicester’s Hospitals, added: “Further research is now underway to understand how to use these statistical approaches to combine complex information in asthma patients and make personalised treatment decisions.”

The NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre is a partnership between Leicester’s Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University.

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