50 years of pioneering asthma research which has benefited patients and sufferers throughout the UK will be celebrated at an event hosted by the University of Leicester on Wednesday 20 June.
The Midlands Asthma and Allergy Research Association (MAARA) will be celebrating its 50th anniversary with a lecture titled 'The Future of Asthma', which will reflect on the research to have emerged from the charity over the years and consider what developments will occur in asthma and respiratory research over the next 10-15 years.
MAARA is a local charity that has funded a substantial amount of respiratory health related research projects in Leicester and in the Midlands. Its research has greatly contributed to the benefits of patients by funding projects in a new precision medicine, biomarker directed approach.
During the lecture on Wednesday 20 June, Professor Ian Pavord, who was a Consultant Physician at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester from 1995-2013 and is now Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Oxford, will review this work before providing a personal view on the future of airways disease.
There have been great changes in the way clinicians view airway diseases over the last 10-15 years and research suggests that future approaches to classification and management will be very different.
It is likely that old fashioned labels will be replaced by a new classification system focusing on traits that can be measured and modified, with resultant patient benefit. Management will move from one size fits all guidelines to a new precision medicine, biomarker directed approach.
Original research carried out in Leicester and elsewhere in the East Midlands has been influential in driving this new thinking.
One current research project taking place at the University of Leicester is led by Drs Deepa Patel, Erol Gaillard and Catherine Pashley and will examine the role of fungi in cystic fibrosis and how changes in the bacterial diversity in the sputum of cystic fibrosis patients is linked to fungal airway colonization.
MAARA has a long standing association with the University of Leicester, which has received a number of grants from the charity. MAARA currently funds the provision of pollen and spore counts from Leicester to add to its archive which is the longest running in the country.
Harry Morrow Brown, the founder of MAARA, is credited as being the reason oral steroids are used for patients with asthma - being responsible for the first trial to show that inhaled steroids were therapeutic for asthma.
Steve Watson, MAARA's chairman, said: "I have been involved with the Charity for over 20 years and have always been impressed with dedication of the researchers whom we sponsor and with the range of research they undertake. MAARA is particularly keen to support young researchers who use the funding to build a reputation early in their careers. However, we are not just about medical research, MAARA has in the past also supported more diverse projects looking at the attitudes to, and effect of, asthma and allergies on the lives of young sufferers, an area which is often neglected."
Professor David Cousins from the University of Leicester's Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation said: "Support from MAARA for allergy and asthma research in Leicester has been instrumental in developing our capabilities over many years. We are now recognized as one of the leading international centers for this research, being placed 3rd worldwide in a recent analysis. MAARA has often supported young investigators who have become world leading experts in the development of new treatments for patients with severe allergy and asthma. This work would not have been possible without funding from MAARA."
This event is supported by the Respiratory Health and Wellbeing campaign of the Health Matters team at the University of Leicester and focuses on the respiratory health within Leicester's community by creating fun and informative events for anyone and everyone.
Most of these events promote activities in Leicester's green spaces and have a positive impact on not only our physical, but also mental wellbeing, as well as initiate thoughts and discussions about air quality, our environment and healthier lifestyles. Hot topics include smoking and lung disease, such as COPD and Asthma.