Asthma patients across the UK are set to benefit from projects funded jointly by Innovate UK and Asthma UK to improve diagnosis and support better, more personalised treatments.
The new three-year projects are based in Manchester, Edinburgh and Portsmouth and bring together expert collaborations between academic researchers and innovative businesses. Each will receive new investment worth over £200,000.
Each patient’s asthma is different and has individual triggers that vary over time. Current tests for asthma often lead to misdiagnosis and mean patients have to trial treatments to find what works for them. Up to 40% of people are put on the wrong treatment initially. Diagnosing asthma in pre-school children is extremely difficult.
To tackle this challenge, Innovate UK and Asthma UK created an opportunity for innovative businesses and researchers to work together to develop ways to improve the health and well-being of the 5.4 million people in the UK whose lives are affected by asthma.
This partnership is one of the ways that Innovate UK is helping to deliver the government’s industrial strategy and make sure the UK meets the target of spending 2.4% of GDP on research and development by 2027.
The three projects, their university and business partners and amounts funded, are:
New tests for asthma diagnosis that look at the small airways of the lungs and whether these tests better predict response to treatment. This could reduce the number of people who are wrongly diagnosed with asthma and are therefore taking unnecessary medication. £236,090.00
A clinical decision support system to help doctors and nurses in general practice diagnose asthma more easily that will lead to better assessment of asthma and more personalised treatment. £210,258.50
Testing a new device to measure gases in exhaled breath to diagnose asthma in hospitals and GP surgeries, which will make the journey to diagnosis quicker, better and cheaper. £213,990.70
Dr Kath Mackay, Interim Director – Ageing Society, Health & Nutrition at Innovate UK said: “Many of us either are or know asthma sufferers, so are only too aware of the pressing need for better diagnosis and improved, personalised treatments. This new funding will allow innovative businesses to work hand-in-hand with the very best researchers to bring forward these much-needed breakthroughs. By choosing to work in partnership with leading charities, such as Asthma UK we can connect businesses to the resources that the charities may have. This can be access to patients, new ideas and the ability to generate real world evidence.”
Dr Erika Kennington, Head of Research at Asthma UK, said: “We are delighted to partner with Innovate UK to jointly-fund three project grants. These projects provide an exciting opportunity to improve the accuracy of asthma diagnosis, help doctors and nurses in general practice diagnose asthma more easily, and make the journey to diagnosis quicker, better and more cost-effective.
“Diagnosing asthma can be extremely difficult and this is mainly because there is a lack of definitive diagnostic tools. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of these research projects and hope that improved and faster diagnosis could mean people with asthma can then get faster access to treatments and care.”
Each application for the Innovate UK-Asthma UK funding was submitted for review by at least three external peer reviewers as well as two scientific members and three lay members of a specially convened Research Review Panel, which comprised Asthma UK’s Research Review Panel, co-opted members bringing specific expertise, plus members nominated by Innovate UK.
With further funding likely to become available, Innovate UK and Asthma UK are looking at running a second similar competition either later this year or early in 2020. Ahead of that, both organisations plan to run a networking workshop to encourage new partnerships between researchers and businesses to consider applying for funding.
About Innovate UK
Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. For more information visit www.ukri.org.
Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base. We connect businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth.
We fund business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D. Our support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions.
About Asthma UK
In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12).
Every day, the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one to an asthma attack, and tragically two thirds of these deaths are preventable.
Asthma UK’s mission is to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma. We do this by funding world leading research, campaigning for improved care and supporting people to reduce their risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.
For more information about asthma please visit www.asthma.org.uk