Tell us what Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation do?
Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Innovation at Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation, holds a PhD in mechanisms of allergy and asthma, and has worked in the field for over 25 years. Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation merged on the 1 January 2020.
We’re working to change the lives of everyone affected by asthma, bronchiectasis, COPD, ILD, mesothelioma, pulmonary fibrosis and all other lung conditions. Our support helps people who struggle to breathe manage their lung condition and live well. Our world-leading research finds new ways to prevent, treat and cure lung disease.
Our campaigns help make vital, lasting change.
Why is what you do so important?
We fund research into the causes of lung disease and improvement of diagnostics, treatments and cures. We support researchers and campaign to make lung research a priority and increase the UK’s overall investment in it.
Every five minutes, somebody dies from lung disease, and 10,000 people get a new diagnosis of lung disease every week. Yet research and investment into lung disease is chronically underfunded, with spend on respiratory disease in the UK accounting to a mere 1.8% of the £2.56bn spend on health research. For too long, the impact of respiratory diseases has been underplayed and as an organisation, we have been working tirelessly to ensure lung conditions are recognised as a top priority and funding for research is increased.
What impact could Our Future Health have on detecting, preventing and treating respiratory disease and lung conditions?
Our research community will find the linked datasets and clinical samples from a very large group of people created by Our Future Health to be an immensely valuable resource in their studies and will help to improve efficiency and speed up the research process.
As the data for such a large group of people will be available, it will avoid work on smaller cohort studies that then required repeated sampling and further data collection. Having one central data source will also reduce the cost and time required to access the current multiple datasets. The larger cohort size is also likely to be more representative of the general population and therefore may generate insights and outcomes that will be beneficial for a larger group of people, especially those that are under-represented in the smaller cohort studies.
For respiratory diseases, this means that we can enhance our understanding of respiratory conditions. This will lead to the identification of more drug targets that could allow for more personalised approaches to diagnosis and treatment of lung conditions.
By gaining access to the genetic data, this will also give us a better understanding of which genes are involved in the pathways that drive respiratory disease, allowing us to identify specific biomarkers that could enhance the diagnosis of conditions and also improve the treatment options.