New research presented today (Friday 8th December) at the British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting shows the human body clock significantly impacts on sample results used to diagnose and treat asthma when taken at different times of the day. This may have implications for how asthma is diagnosed and treated in the future.
Dr Hannah Durrington, Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Manchester, who has led the research, funded by Asthma UK, will explain that test results from an asthma patient taken in the morning differ from those taken from the same patient in the afternoon.
Dr Durrington’s research team analysed blood, mucus coughed up from the lungs and the breath of ten moderately severe asthmatics and ten healthy volunteers at different times of the day.
The asthmatic volunteers, as researchers had expected, displayed greater narrowing of their airways in the early hours of the morning than in the afternoon and this corresponded with a change in inflammatory cells - or eosinophils, measured in their sputum. Sputum eosinophil levels can be used to guide treatment in severe asthma patients.
The research also showed that sputum eosinophil levels can vary considerably between the morning and afternoon. They were higher in the morning, lower in the afternoon.
The University of Manchester is home to the largest biological timing research community in Europe. Dr Durrington also provides an asthma clinic at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT).
Dr Durrington explains:
“These research results are really exciting but at an early stage – our aim was to understand a bit more about how the body clock affects the biochemistry of a person with asthma. We are pleased because our work should help with the accurate diagnosis and treatment of asthma in the future.
“It is really important to stress that this is ongoing scientific work – and no asthma patient should make any adjustment to their treatment regime without consulting their doctor. We are now planning a large randomised clinical trial which we hope in the future will point towards an indication about the optimum time of day for asthma treatments to be taken.
“We feel it may also have important implications on other lung conditions, as well as outside respiratory medicine. It also points towards opportunities for more personalised treatment for asthma care in the future. In the same way that measuring glucose levels in diabetes allows adjustment of insulin dosing, we may see asthmatics monitoring their biomarker chemicals during the day, to help inform optimum treatment times.”
Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, adds:
"People's body clocks are incredibly powerful. This research, which we are proud to help fund, shows that for the 5.4 million people in the UK who have asthma, the results of an asthma test could differ depending on the time of day the test took place. While this research is at a very early stage, it could have a significant impact on when people with asthma are tested at some stage in the future. We look forward to seeing the results of the next stage of the team’s research in this area."
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During the British Thoracic Society meeting (from Wednesday 6th to Friday 8th December 2017):
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
Durrington HJ1,2, Maidstone R1, Wilkinson M3, Kendall A4, Krakowiak K1, Nicolaou A4, Singh D1,5, Loudon A1, Fowler S2, Simpson A1,2, Ray D1
1 School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester
2 Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT)
3Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, Faculty of Science and Engineering
4 School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester5 Medicines Evaluation Unit, University Hospital of South Manchester
Dean’s Clinical Prize from the University of Manchester
The Moulton Charitable Trust
The North West Lung Charity Award
About the British Thoracic Society
The British Thoracic Society is the UK’s professional body of respiratory specialists. The Society seeks to improve standards of care for people who have respiratory diseases and to support and develop those who provide that care. A registered charity, it has over 3,400 members including doctors, nurses, respiratory physiotherapists, scientists and other professionals with a respiratory interest. For more information, go to www.brit-thoracic.org.uk
The British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting takes place from Wednesday 6th to Friday 8th December 2017 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster, London.
About The University of Manchester
The University of Manchester, a member of the prestigious Russell Group, is the UK’s largest single-site university with 38,600 students and is consistently ranked among the world’s elite for graduate employability. The University is also one of the country’s major research institutions, rated fifth in the UK in terms of ‘research power’ (REF 2014). World class research is carried out across a diverse range of fields including cancer, advanced materials, addressing global inequalities, energy and industrial biotechnology. Visit www.manchester.ac.uk for more information.