World Asthma Day

May 7 2019

Tuesday May 7 is World Asthma Day – a day to raise awareness for the airway disease that affects one in nine Australians. Every day HMRI researchers are working to stop asthma and help people breathe easier.

Around 2.7 million Australians suffer from asthma. With symptoms including wheezing, coughing and difficulty to breathe, it’s often a dangerous and debilitating condition. Around 45% of people with asthma have poorly- controlled asthma effecting their ability to function and quality of life.

The Hunter Medical Research Institute has a world-leading team of respiratory researchers dedicated to finding treatments and cures for asthma.

Dr Vanessa Murphy is working on controlling asthma in pregnant women through targeted treatment to reduce asthma exacerbations in pregnancy. This has a dual benefit of not only improving women’s health, but has also proven to be effective at improving the health outcomes for the baby. The Managing Asthma in Pregnancy Trial and the Breathing For Life trial have demonstrated that by controlling a woman’s asthma in pregnancy the rate of asthma in her offspring is nearly halved.

Professor Jodie Simpson is researching the triggers (infection and air pollution) that drive neutrophilic inflammation in asthma. Neutrophils are white blood cells that fight infection, but in some patients with airways disease, neutrophils persist in the airways – leading to excessive inflammation and poor lung function.

Professor Vanessa McDonald is working to improve outcomes for people with asthma through individualised, targeted management of the condition. Professor McDonald wants to see a more personalised approach to managing chronic conditions in ways that can be translated into clinical practice to improve outcomes for patients.

Dr J Michael Ramsahai is a Respiratory Physician doing his PhD in Medicine on the subject of biomarkers in severe asthma. The ultimate goal of that research is the clinical utilisation of these biomarkers in the management of asthma to help patients by improving their symptoms and reducing the frequency of exacerbations associated with their disease.

Dr Sarah Hiles is looking at how gentle exercise such as yoga can improve asthma symptoms and control. Many people with asthma struggle to find suitable activities they can manage, for many people, yoga helps with breathing, fatigue, breathlessness and mental health.

Dr Hayley Scott’s work has previously shown that exercise improves asthma symptoms and quality of life. Now Dr Scott is exploring which intensity of exercise works best to manage asthma.

Professor Lisa Wood is researching nutritional approaches to managing asthma. This includes improving diet quality by increasing fruit and vegetable intake to assess the impact on inflammation, asthma control, symptoms and lung function. Professor Wood is also studying the role that dietary fibre can play in improving the amount of healthy bacteria in the gut, which can enhance the immune system and improve asthma symptoms.

These are just some of the researchers looking at treatment and management of asthma. Click here to read more about our world-class research.

Research breakthroughs are only possible thanks to our volunteers who participate in HMRI research trials. We’re currently recruiting participants for the following asthma studies.

Asthma and dietary fibre

Exercise training and asthma

A new way to treat your asthma

Asthma management during pregnancy

Click here to find out more about participating in research and to find out what other research studies are recruiting volunteers.

Click here to find out more about joining the HMRI Research Register - our central database of people interested in participating in medical research