Personalised Puffers: Asthma’s Exciting Future

Children with asthma could soon get personalized treatment that targets their specific type of wheeze, a world-leading respiratory expert says.

British paediatric allergy researcher Professor Adnan Custovic will deliver a lecture in Sydney on Friday on ground-breaking work that could see youngsters one day diagnosed with distinct types of asthma. Once specialists are able to diagnose sub-types of the common lung condition, work can get underway to personalise treatment for each patient, ensuring sufferers get the most effective therapy for their specific wheeze.

The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Sydney invited the distinguished researcher to Australia to present the Ann Woolcock Lecture in honour of the institute’s esteemed founder.

More than two million Australians have asthma, and rates are highest in children,”  says the Woolcock’s Executive Director Professor Carol Armour. “Doctors currently only have the ability to diagnose and treat asthma broadly, so to consider a future with targeted treatments is truly exciting.

Asthma is an umbrella term for a collection of distinct diseases in which the airways become narrow and inflamed. Researchers worldwide are working with reams of genetic and environmental data to discover specific asthma subtypes. Professor Custovic, Clinical Professor of Paediatric Allergy at Imperial College, London, will report on exciting developments in machine-learning techniques to advance the field. 

Professor Armour says if advancements keep up, one day soon our doctors will be able to identify true asthma endotypes at a population level. "This will ultimately lead to more precise prevention strategies, identification of novel therapeutic targets and the development of effective personalized therapies,” she says.

The Ann Woolcock Lecture series honours the contribution of Prof Woolcock to the research community. Invited researchers share their ideas with industry, policy makers, doctors, specialists and patients with a view to prompting new collaborations to improve respiratory health.

The lecture will be held on Friday, 28 October at 5.30pm, at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research headquarters in Glebe, Sydney.

RSVP to woolcock.admin@sydney.edu.au or phone 02 9114 0408.