The next breakthrough to treat severe asthma


We’ll be changing the way we think about airways disease and asthma will probably become a much more general term and we will always need to define certainly ‘what asthma do I have?’ rather than ‘I’ve got asthma’. With scientific progress, you have long periods where nothing much happens, and then the periods where you have massive advances and in airways disease we’re in one of those periods of very rapid development and advances. Every meeting I go to I hear something new that’s highly interesting and it makes me think differently so it’s very exciting to be involved in research in this area at the moment. Biomarkers and measurements: you can make the patient’s blood test or breathing test or breath test, that tell you about how that patient’s conditions likely to behave. And there are two important things we want to know; are they at risk of an important outcome like asthma attacks or decline in lung function with time. And secondly we want to know, does different treatments that we have available to us, are they likely to have a big impact? And the biomarkers that are having the biggest impact in asthma are biomarkers of type two inflammation. These are measurements that tell us that this particular neural pathway is activated. And the reason that’s important is because people with type 2 neural asthma have a higher risk of asthma attacks, even if they have few symptoms or a normal lung function they’re still at risk. And certainly we can substantially reduce that risk by applying corticosteroid treatment, and the biological treatments that target specifically the cytokines involved in type two inflammation.