Researchers identify common biological features of different types of asthma

March 14, 2018, University of Leicester
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A team of researchers from the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre - a partnership between Leicester's Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University - has 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 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 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 and moderate and 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 and make personalised treatment decisions."

Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, which funded the study, said: "For a long time, asthma has been considered as one condition, but this research illustrates the growing understanding that the term 'asthma' is in fact an umbrella term for different lung conditions. There needs to be a much better understanding of how to identify different types of asthma so that treatment can be tailored to prevent and keep people out of hospital. We are calling for more research into asthma, particularly into improving and developing diagnostic tools so that people can be diagnosed and treated quickly and effectively."

Explore further: Study brings hope of a new treatment for asthma sufferers

More information: Salman Siddiqui et al, Airway pathological heterogeneity in asthma: Visualization of disease microclusters using topological data analysis, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.12.982

Related Stories

Study brings hope of a new treatment for asthma sufferers

March 1, 2017
Improved treatments for people with severe asthma are a 'step closer' after a research team led by the University of Leicester identified a breakthrough in the cause of airway narrowing.

Asthma management tools improve asthma control and reduce hospital visits

March 13, 2018
A set of comprehensive asthma management tools helps decrease asthma-related visits to the emergency department, urgent care or hospital and improves patients' asthma control.

Maternal uncontrolled asthma ups risk of asthma in offspring

July 17, 2017
(HealthDay)—Children whose mothers have uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy are at increased risk of developing the disease at a young age, according to a study published online July 13 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical ...

Study reveals new insights into how asthma 'pathways' could be blocked

August 19, 2015
Researchers from the University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, working with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Genentech, have discovered new insights into ...

New target could help to reduce symptoms of asthma attacks, research shows

March 8, 2016
An international team of researchers from the Universities of Leicester and Naples has examined the role of a receptor in the body that could help to prevent or reduce the effects of asthma attacks.

Research team defines genetic subtypes of asthma

March 19, 2015
A Yale-led analysis of gene expression in asthma patients identified three major clusters of the disease. The finding could lead to a personalized approach to asthma management.

Recommended for you

Quintupling inhaler medication may not prevent asthma attacks in children

March 19, 2018
Children with mild to moderate asthma do not benefit from a common practice of increasing their inhaled steroids at the first signs of an asthma exacerbation, according to clinical trial results published in The New England ...

How allergens trigger asthma attacks

March 19, 2018
A team of Inserm and CNRS researchers from the Institute of Pharmacology and Structural Biology have identified a protein that acts like a sensor detecting allergens in the respiratory tract that are responsible for asthma ...

Single steroid-bronchodilator treatment for control and rescue improves persistent asthma

March 19, 2018
When it comes to treating teens and adults with persistent asthma, using a single corticosteroid and long-acting bronchodilator treatment for both daily asthma control and for rescue relief during sudden asthma attacks is ...

Obesity and health problems: New research on a safeguard mechanism

March 16, 2018
Obesity and its negative impacts on health - including metabolic syndrome, type-2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular complications - are a global pandemic (Taubes, 2009). The worldwide incidence of obesity has more than ...

Immune system 'double agent' could be new ally in cancer fight

March 16, 2018
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists have discovered that an enzyme called TAK1 functions like a "double agent" in the innate immune response, serving as an unexpected regulator of inflammation and cell death. ...

Artificial sweetener Splenda could intensify symptoms in those with Crohn's disease

March 15, 2018
In a study that has implications for humans with inflammatory diseases, researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and colleagues have found that, given over a six-week period, the artificial sweetener ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.