Three leading experts in respiratory medicine have been awarded funding to help patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

These are incurable lung conditions identified as having a lack of effective treatments to halt disease progression, despite their heavy burden on patients. 

The charity awarded the BLF Chair in Respiratory Research grant to Professor Toby Maher, Imperial College London, and the GSK/BLF Chair in Respiratory Research grant to Professor James Chalmers, University of Dundee, and Professor Louise Wain, University of Leicester.

The aim is to discover processes in the diseases that may enable doctors to prescribe personalised treatment to patients.

Professor Louise Wain’s study will use innovative genetic approaches and an unprecedented wealth of data collated through international collaboration, to identify the genetic determinants of susceptibility to IPF and COPD.

Though smoking has been identified as the biggest risk factor for COPD, 20% of people with COPD have never smoked, and not all smokers develop COPD.

Professor Wain said: “For both diseases there is a need to improve and increase treatment options. This research will also be fundamental in helping us to predict who will develop these conditions, and how a patient’s illness will progress.”