A study of the most influential research in asthma in the last 50 years from around the world found that the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals asthma research team were in the top three worldwide.
The researchers identified the most frequently cited articles published from 1960 to December 2017. The 100 top-cited articles were then analysed with regard to number of citations, publication year, journals, institution, research type and field, authors and countries of authors of publications. The study was published in the journal Respiratory Medicine.
Professor Chris Brightling, Senior Investigator at the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre said: “Leicester is world-leading in asthma research. I think the success of lung research in Leicester is largely due to the fantastic participation of our patients in research together with the close working between the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and the University of Leicester. It has been this team work that has led to major discoveries and new treatments.”
Several studies by Leicester academics were amongst the top 100 most highly cited papers making Leicester in the top 3 centres for asthma research in the world over the last 50 years. This achievement is perhaps even more remarkable when taking into consideration that the first Professor in Respiratory Medicine in Leicester was only appointed 20 years ago.
Professor Andrew Wardlaw, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University, said: “The last two decades have resulted in major advances in our understanding of the pathogenesis of asthma and how best to manage the condition, particularly in its more severe manifestations. The respiratory group in Leicester has been at the forefront of these developments leading the way in defining how inflammation of the airways (breathing tubes) leads to the abnormal lung physiology that causes asthma. As a result of these insights we have guided the development of novel therapies which have now found their way into the clinic and are having a major impact on the quality of life for people with severe asthma.”
Dr Pranab Haldar, clinical senior lecturer at the University, added: “I would say that Leicester’s work has led the way to realising the possibility of personalised treatment for patients with asthma. This has been achieved by complementary discoveries made in understanding the mechanisms that contribute to measures of asthma control, providing a framework to classify patients into groups that share common clinical and mechanistic traits and delivering clinical trials that have demonstrated how the mechanisms can be effectively manipulated to achieve better asthma control.”
Among the research cited as most influential were:
• Definition of the role of one of the white blood cells (eosinophils) in asthma which had been controversial for four decades
• Development of a new paradigm of asthma pathogenesis (eosinophilic and non-eosinophilic) which has profound implications for drug development for asthma
• Pioneering a novel approach to the interrogation of asthma heterogeneity
• Leicester played a major role in the development of a new class of drugs for asthma (mepolizumab) a new biological therapy that targets IL-5 the major growth factor for eosinophils
More information: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rmed.2018.03.014
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