COPD and Asthma


Professor Wisia Wedzicha
Lead academic

Study with NHLI

Professor Wedzicha talks about COPD exacerbations at Longdagen conference

Professor Wedzicha talks about COPD exacerbations at Longdagen conference

What we do

We are involved in the study of mechanisms of airway inflammatory diseases, with specific interest in mechanisms of exacerbations in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including the role of respiratory viral and bacterial infections in these diseases. There is a particular interest in acute exacerbations and the role of rhinovirus infections.

Why it is important

Both chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma have a large impact on many people's lives. Advanced COPD  is a major cause of disability, impairment of quality of life, hospital admission and readmissions together with a burden on primary care.  It is the third leading cause of death worldwide and COPD exacerbations are the most common cause of hospital admission and costly to health services. 

5.4 million people in the UK have asthma which is about 1 in 11 people including 1.1 million children. Somebody experience an asthma attack every 10 seconds and about 3 people die from asthma every day.

How it can benefit patients

The objectives of our work in asthma and COPD is to identify mechanisms within carefully stratified subject groups, that lead to the development of a greater understanding of COPD and asthma and their exacerbation. This understanding will be translated into the identification of novel therapeutic targets that can be used to treat the disease and reduce the burden on patients and financial pressures on the NHS. 

Summary of current research

  • Epidemiological investigations of the importance of environmental factors in development of these diseases.
  • The role of viral and atypical bacterial infections in the development of and in precipitating acute exacerbations of asthma and COPD.
  • Cellular and molecular studies investigate the basic pathogenic mechanisms of the diseases and the role of viral and atypical bacteria in exacerbations with a major focus being the identification of targets for the development of new treatments for treatment and prevention of exacerbations.
  • Role of RSV in the progression of COPD.
  • Lung deposition behaviour of inhaled bronchodilator aerosols of different particle size within the airways of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Experimental studies of secondary bacterial infection is common following rhinovirus infection in COPD, and its relation to deficiency of antimicrobial peptides.
  • Use of in vivo models, including human challenge models, of virus induced exacerbations of asthma and COPD to understand novel mechanisms of disease, to identify novel targets for new therapies, and to test efficacy of emerging new therapies.

Watch a video on Professor Sebastian Johnston's research on YouTube


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