UK ramps up effort to improve asthma diagnosis

27 February 2019 (Last Updated February 27th, 2019 12:20)

Innovate UK, the country’s innovation agency, has partnered with non-profit organisation Asthma UK to support three projects focused on the diagnosis and faster, personalised treatment of asthma.

UK ramps up effort to improve asthma diagnosis
Nearly 5.4 million people in the UK are suffering from asthma. Credit: Asthma UK.

Innovate UK, the country’s innovation agency, has partnered with non-profit organisation Asthma UK to support three projects focused on the diagnosis and faster, personalised treatment of asthma.

According to Asthma UK, 5.4 million people in the country are suffering from the respiratory condition and someone is experiencing a potentially life-threatening asthma attack every ten seconds.

Diagnosing asthma is considered difficult and existing approaches often deliver misdiagnosis.

“The projects will offer improved decision support systems for doctors and reduce workload for GPs, noted the UK government.”

The new projects, which will involve alliances between academics and businesses, are expected to improve diagnostic testing to predict responses to treatments.

Under the first programme, the University of Manchester will work with Owlstone Medical to devise new diagnostic tests that will examine small airways in the lungs to evaluate treatment response.

This project is intended to cut down the proportion of people who are misdiagnosed and are receiving unnecessary medication. Owlstone Medical is a diagnostics company developing a breathalyser for detecting disease.

As part of the second project, the University of Edinburgh will team up with digital healthcare services provider Tactuum to develop a new clinical decision support system for asthma diagnosis.

The system is expected to enhance patient assessments and thus facilitate more personalised treatment plans.

Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth and Cambridge and Respiratory Innovations will collaborate under the third project to study a new device that is designed to measure gases in exhaled breath to detect asthma quickly.

Asthma UK research head Erika Kennington said: “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.”

The projects will offer improved decision support systems for doctors and reduce workload for GPs, noted the UK Government.