About 1 in 5 adults and children in the UK have a history of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or another longstanding illness that affects their lungs – called respiratory illness – according to the British Lung Foundation. Rates of respiratory illness are generally similar for men and women. Despite many advances in prevention and treatment, lung disease still accounts for around 20 percent of all deaths in the UK making it the third leading cause of death. More locally, 14 per cent of emergency hospital admissions in Leicester are related to lung disease.
The respiratory and infectious diseases theme of the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre is located in the Institute for Lung Health at Glenfield Hospital.
We focus on the study of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, COPD – or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, interstitial lung disease – or ILD, respiratory infections, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, and a new condition commonly known as Long-COVID.
We have developed three main research areas:
- Discovery – The aim is to find out and describe what is happening in the body around chronic lung diseases and respiratory infection: what increases the risk of developing the disease and how bad the symptoms are, and how and why it may get worse over time.
- Biomarkers and phenotypes, which means chemicals in the body and characteristics – diseases like asthma do not have the same causes and symptoms in each person; there are different types. If we can understand more about the different types of a disease, we will be able to give the right type of treatment to the right person at the right time, so we can increase the chances of them getting their condition under control and improving quality of life.
- Clinical interventions – By studying how patients respond to healthcare we can increase our understanding of respiratory diseases and develop personalised approaches to care, as well as new public health tools.
Meeting the needs of underserved populations is a key thread to our research. For example, we were the first group to identify the increased risk of COVID-19 in people from ethnic minority backgrounds. We also lead national tuberculosis research programmes that prioritise underserved migrant populations.
Theme Lead – Professor Chris Brightling
Professor Brightling’s work focuses on understanding how diseases of the airways develop based on the body’s immune response, including in Long-COVID. He uses this learning to improve how these diseases are managed in hospitals. Read Professor Brightling’s full biography and research portfolio here: https://le.ac.uk/people/chris-brightling