- Asthma affects 300 million people worldwide, and causes around 239,000 deaths every year.
- 80 million people have moderate to severe COPD. It is now the 4th leading cause of death and predicted to become the 3rd by 2030.
- Asthma costs around 17.7 and COPD 38.8 billion euros a year in Europe.
Damaged, inflamed or obstructed airways are common in people with asthma and COPD, which makes breathing difficult.
Current treatments for asthma and COPD use a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The methods to detect and treat these conditions do not always consider the individual differences in the airways that make each person unique. As a result, people with these conditions may not receive the treatment that fits them best.
Over the last few decades, there has been a huge increase in the amount of information and data on asthma and COPD and our ability to measure all aspects of these diseases has greatly increased.
Despite knowing more about asthma and COPD, few new therapies have been developed. This is partly because we do not yet have the tools to predict how a disease will develop; we can currently only assess how severe a disease is at the present time.
Over time, researchers have begun to realise the complexity of these diseases both in terms of how the body’s systems are affected and the molecular processes that lead to airway obstruction. Fortunately, this change in scientific thinking about disease and the modern revolution in data handling and computing has now made it possible to start developing tools for exploring these complex processes.
By understanding more about the complexity of airways disease we can better understand disease at an individual level. Finding the right treatment for each person can help them to manage and control their conditions more easily and to be as active as possible, meaning that their quality of life may be improved. It could also reduce the number of hospital visits made each year and therefore helping to prevent distress to patients and saving money.