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Plymouth Marjon University to lead international research into asthma treatments

Released: 21.10.21

Researchers at Plymouth Marjon University are leading a major international study on asthma treatments. The Marjon team are working in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Plymouth, the University of Exeter and Devon hospitals, including the University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust.

The research seeks to assess the benefits of new medications for asthma, called biologics, which interrupt the inflammatory pathways in asthma. 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).

Trials of these medications 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.

The team have already produced the Severe Asthma Questionnaire, with patients input throughout, to get a better picture of how the treatment impacts their condition and quality of life. This is now being used in severe asthma studies. This latest round of research seeks to develop a specific quality of life questionnaire for patients with mild to moderate asthma, called the Generic Asthma Questionnaire, again to develop a richer understanding of how biologics impact their condition and quality of life.

The new questionnaire will be used in large international clinical trials of new biologic treatments for asthma. 14 European universities are collaborating on this stage of the project.

The research is led by Marjon’s Professor Michael Hyland, Professor of Health Psychology and Professor Rupert Jones, Visiting Professor of Health Research. The research team also includes Dr Matthew Masoli, consultant at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, and Hazel Dickinson, researcher at Plymouth Marjon University.

The team are looking for 1000 people to complete an anonymous online survey and the answers will be used to help devise the new questionnaire. To participate you must be 18 years or older and regularly be prescribed preventer inhalers for asthma. Click here to complete the asthma survey.


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