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Our bronchiectasis research

Bronchiectasis is a long-term condition that affects the airways in your lungs. An estimated 210,000 people in the UK are living with bronchiectasis.

For up to half of people diagnosed with bronchiectasis, there’s no clear underlying cause. This is called idiopathic bronchiectasis.

Bronchiectasis in numbers

29 blue silhouettes

people live with diagnosed bronchiectasis

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lungs blue outline infographic

people are told they have bronchiectasis every year

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£ 300,000

total spend on all projects​

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Aim of our bronchiectasis research

Our bronchiectasis research aims to find better treatments for people living with the condition. It’s enabled researchers to create tests that can help match treatments to people, using state-of-the-art methods.

Our support for this research is helping people living with bronchiectasis to get the treatment that’s right for them.

Bronchiectasis research projects

Here are some of the bronchiectasis research projects we've funded:

Professor James Chalmers is one our researchers who's investigating cures and treatments into bronchiectasis.

Using ‘lungprints’ to find the right treatments 

One of Professor Chalmers’ ongoing research projects uses new technologies to create ‘lungprints.’ These are like unique fingerprints, but of lungs. By doing this, he hopes that it’ll eventually be possible to match the right treatment to the right person, at the right time. Personalised treatments would be more effective and have fewer side effects.

In the short term, this could guide doctors to use drugs more effectively. In the long term, this could help them develop better drugs that target the root cause of every individual's bronchiectasis. It could transform the way bronchiectasis is treated. 

Over the next 5 years, the study will identify lungprints in over 1,000 people with bronchiectasis across Europe. It’s going to be the largest and most detailed study of bronchiectasis ever undertaken.

How does air pollution affect people living with bronchiectasis?

Professor Chalmers’ team has also studied how different levels of air pollution affect people living with bronchiectasis in Scotland.

During the study, they saw a clear link between chest infections, visits to the GP and hospital admissions, and high levels of air pollution. Although there was a risk all year round, they found that the chance of infection was more than double in the summer when people spent more time outdoors. 

The study concluded that people with bronchiectasis are very susceptible to air pollution. Even brief exposure to harmful particles and pollutants cause inflammation in the lungs, and have a damaging effect on the heart and other parts of the body.

The results of this study help us show the government that improving air quality is vital for everyone, but especially for people living with lung conditions. This supports our campaigning work, and helps us put pressure on elected representatives to improve air quality.

Since I began working in bronchiectasis, I’ve done everything I possibly can to raise the profile of the disease and to bring new investigators and scientists into the field. It’s so exciting to see the progress we’re achieving and it's only thanks to the generous donations of Asthma + Lung UK supporters. Professor James Chalmers

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