Epigenetics of Severe Asthma

The David Hide Asthma & Allergy Research Centre, Isle of Wight

Study Purpose:

Asthma is a condition that affects the airways, which are tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs.

People with asthma tend to have:

  1. Sensitive airways that can react to any triggers, e.g. cold air, dust and pollens, causing tightening of their airways.
  2. Inflammation of the smaller airways.

People with asthma can have varying forms of the condition from mild or moderate to severe disease. It is unclear why some people experience severe disease while many others have milder asthma. However, it is clear that the development of asthma appears to be driven by the combination of inherited factors that we have in our genes and the environment in which we live.

‘Epigenetics’ is a process that determines how the function of cells is regulated in response to external influences in its environment. During this process there are minor alterations in the structure of the DNA (short for deoxyribonucleic acid), but not the DNA code (sequence), which determine if the genes are switched on (active) or off (dormant) within cells. These changes can be detected using cutting-edge technologies which allow detailed assessments of genes and their individual components such as DNA and RNA (ribonucleic acid). We know that epigenetic changes can determine health and disease. Research has begun to show that these epigenetic mechanisms are relevant to asthma and we would like to investigate this further.

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Age 18 years+
  2. Confirmed or suspected diagnosis of Mild Asthma
  3. On Salbutamol (Blue) and/or Steroid (Brown) inhaler regularly OR as needed.

What Happens:

We will ask you to complete a consent form, followed by several health and disease related questionnaires. We will perform an allergy skin test to 13 common allergens, lung function tests and blood sampling for genetic and immunological testing. This will take approximately 1.5-2 hours of your time.

A further visit will include a repeat blood sample and phlegm (sputum) sampling in early 2019. Some participants may be asked if they are happy to attend an ‘optional’ visit of having a bronchoscopy (camera test) to take tissue samples from the airways.

Who is Organising & Funding the Research?

This Study is organised by the Clinical Experimental Sciences Department, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton in conjunction with the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, San Diego, USA and the David Hide Asthma & Allergy Research Centre, St Mary’s Hospital Isle of Wight. The Study is funded by the NIH (National Institutes for Health), USA.

Your decision to participate in the study is entirely voluntary.

Contact for further information:

Email:  [email protected]

Local Research Team:

Clinical Research Fellow: Dr Heena Mistry

Principal Investigator: Professor Hasan Arshad