Breakthrough research to diagnose children with asthma at the University of Leicester

Posted by ap507 at Jan 21, 2016 10:19 AM |
Midlands Asthma and Allergy Research Association funds projects to combat effects of asthma

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 21 January 2016

A number of studies to better understand asthma – including how to diagnose and monitor the condition in children – will be conducted by researchers at the University of Leicester.

The Midlands Asthma and Allergy Research Association (MAARA) Executive Committee has approved grants totalling £230,000 over the next five years for a number of projects in the East Midlands area.

The projects led by researchers at the University of Leicester’s Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation include:

  • Dr Hitesh Pandya – Project to develop a unique ‘E-NOSE’ to find easier and more precise ways of diagnosing and monitoring children with asthma. The E-NOSE project examines the breath of children with asthma using state-of the art electronic chemical analysers to identify chemicals in breath that correlate with asthma.
  • Dr Erol Gaillard with Professor Andrew Wilson, Department of Health Sciences – Study into the implementation of objective testing to diagnose asthma in children in primary care. The aims of the study are to develop a cost-effective training package for primary care that could be delivered nationally and to strengthen the case for national implementation of these breathing tests in children under investigation for asthma and to monitor children already diagnosed.
  • Dr Cat Pashley – Project to identify fungi that may have a detrimental effect on health in asthma and other respiratory diseases. The grant from MAARA will enable the team to purchase the equipment and consumables necessary to establish two techniques: one to establish whether fungal DNA detected comes from alive or dead fungi, and another to determine whether a fungus is causing allergic reactions.
  • Dr Sherif Gonem – Study to explore how air quality impacts people with asthma. The triggers of asthma may vary in different people, and could include changes in the weather, exposure to traffic pollution or high pollen counts. The research will evaluate how the environment may affect a person’s asthma.

MAARA has a close association with the University of Leicester to which it has awarded a number of grants in the past, including a long-running funding programme covering the measurement and dissemination to the general public of pollen and fungal spore levels in the East Midlands. This data archive, now over 40 years old, is the longest running in the country.

MAARA is an East-Midlands based Charity which funds research into the causes and treatment of asthma and allergy.

MAARA, through its Harry Morrow-Brown Travel Fellowship - named after MAARA’s founder who was a pioneer in the asthma and allergy field - also provides grants for researchers to visit national and International Asthma and Allergy seminars and meetings to present the results of their research.

Steve Watson, MAARA’s chairman said: “We have worked closely with the University of Leicester for a number of years and seen very worthwhile results. This latest sponsorship represents a significant investment by MAARA and I am excited by the prospects of seeing these projects bear fruit in the future.”


Notes to editors:

For more information about the MAARA grants please contact Eva Day at

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