People with mild asthma can be identified from those with moderate or severe asthma using the identified biological variations in lung tissue samples, according to a study by a team of researchers from the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre - a partnership between Leicester's Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University. The findings of the study are published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
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 Asthma 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 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 asthma patients 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 asthma attacks 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."