EU Project Update

EARIP Consortium Meets and defines steps towards European Asthma Research and Innovation Partnership

On January 21st, EFA Executive Officer Susanna Palkonen along with EFA Programme and Membership Manager David Brennan attended a meeting in London at the Asthma UK headquarters with other consortium members of the European Asthma Research and Innovation Partnership (EARIP). At the meeting, each Work Package (WP) presented its current progress and Asthma UK assisted the consortium partners to harmonize timelines and brainstorm solutions to potential risks identified for the duration of the project.

EFA’s WP 3a presented Dr. Olof Selroos as the lead for the Work Package literature review of national and regional asthma programmes in Europe along with the literature review’s structure, while Dr. Maciej Kupczyk from the University of Lodz overviewed the results of the literature search to date. The scope of the literature review was confirmed with the consortium as focusing upon asthma programmes in Europe while acknowledging others from around the world in a general discussion of the existing programmes.  It was also determined a health economist should be asked to voluntarily evaluate the literature review when it is completed to add a different perspective.

The final output of the problem will be the European Asthma and Innovation Strategy (EARIS), which will be a comprehensive approach towards addressing asthma in the European Union. In the coming year, partners were encouraged to identify stakeholders who could potentially make a contribution to the project while a public website for EARIP will invite the public to demonstrate any interest in becoming involved. Partners agreed the EARIS concept would benefit from a large diversity of views which would set a framework for what stakeholders should be doing to match and meet the unmet needs of asthma.

MeDALL Annual Meeting in Paris confirms allergic diseases are interconnected

The EFA Executive Officer, Susanna Palkonen, Membership and Programme Manager, David Brennan, and Board Secretary, Per-Ake Wecksell, attended the annual meeting of MeDALL from January 23-24 in Paris. The consortium leaders confirmed the lab work for experimental work packages of MeDALL are nearing completion while the analysis and interpretation of results is in progress. The completion of the analysis is expected for 2014 while many papers are on their way to publication or already have been accepted by peer-review journals for publications. WP10 partners confirm a new allergy programme would be deployed in Norway in the near future, permitting an additional opportunity for the study of allergic disease’s costs to society.

Professor Josep Antó, Scientific Coordinator of MeDALL, confirmed the ‘atopic march’ is driven by Immunoglobin E (IgE), an antibody associated with allergy, but it is due to other mechanisms that the atopic march actually exists. Although allergic diseases are currently approached separately, preliminary MeDALL conclusions suggest they are substantially interconnected, something which patients have always known because of their daily life experience, but that is mostly not dealt with in our health care systems. The so-called ‘clustering’ of allergic diseases and their associations to each other is supported by the notion of the ‘atopic march.’ Current interpretations of MeDALL findings suggest the coexistence of asthma, eczema and rhinitis in the same child is more common than expected by chance alone.  At the population level, asthma, rhinitis and eczema in children are better classified as a single group than three separate diseases as they are highly associated as a result of both IgE and non-IgE related mechanisms.

The WP11 partners identified the necessity of translating knowledge into practical work, advice and diagnostics treatment to reduce the burden of allergy in European societies and among patients. They asserted there should be a focus on allergic diseases as a complex or syndrome to better understand its mechanisms. Prof Tari Haahtela presented initial findings from the 5 year assessment of the Finnish Allergy Programme (FAP) were extremely promising,  while  confirming WP11 would draft a template for the creation of allergy programmes as a tool for customisation in European countries, regions and even hospital districts. EFA shall work with its members to present this tool to stakeholders in national or regional contexts where allergy programmes are desirable and achievable.


U-BIOPRED Annual Meeting in Barcelona reveals progress towards identifying similarities and differences between people with severe asthma

Several EFA Board Members and staff attended the 2014 Annual Meeting for U-BIOPRED in Barcelona, which was the final consortium meeting prior to the presentation of project results in June of 2015. Project coordinator Prof Peter J Sterk confirmed about 2/3 of all deliverables for the project has been completed but many of the most important ones are still remaining. Although a massive part of the project’s efforts have been focused around recruitment and clinical data, which successfully recruited 1028 adults and children for the study, the data which has been collected for the project is considered to be “a strong pillar of achievement.”

The U-BIOPRED WPs overviewed the project’s progress to date with descriptions of workflows and breakout sessions to enhance collaboration in the final 20 months of the project. The production of ‘handprints’ for asthma is closer to realization and is almost halfway complete with researchers presenting the consortium with imaging which detailed the variety ways to cluster different types of asthma patients. The clustering enables focused analysis to compare different groups of severe asthmatics, which could clearly identify both similarities and differences between severe asthma patients. The U-BIOPRED project used breath, sputum, bronchial brushing, bronchial biopsy, blood and urine as sampling sources, which together with the matrix of technology used to evaluate them results in the generation of the final handprints.

The involvement of EFA in WP9 will continue for the remainder of the project through lending assistance to promoting U-BIOPRED through social media channels, promoting the project at a public event in Brussels and in collaboration with the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG) in planning workshops. These workshops would focus on asthma diagnosis in primary care, difficult to manage asthma and the findings of the U-BIOPRED project, integrating them into an appealing series of events in multiple EU countries to review core materials and practices.

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