Part of the Immunity and Allergy research group, the Asthma and Allergy group has a research focus on asthma – its genetic and immune aspects. It is headed by Professor Julian Hopkin, and the team includes Senior Clinical Lecturer, Dr Gwyneth Davies; Immunology Lecturer, Dr William Walker plus Clinical Lecturer and Visiting Research Fellow, Keiko Tenaka. Also linked with the group is Taro Shirakawa, a College of Medicine standing Visiting Professor who is based at the Japanese National Genotyping Centre and is a Professor at Kyoto University.
Professors Hopkin and Shirakawa shared the 2001 Daiwa-Adrian Prize in Medicine for their work on the genetics of asthma and allergy. The group’s key achievements recently have been the demonstration of how genetic variants of Th-2 immune signalling (particularly through the ligand IL-13 and the transduction molecule STAT 6) impact on the production of reagenic antibody IgE, the promotion of asthma, and protection from parasitic worm infection.
Recent epidemiological work has investigated the role of obesity in asthma with particular regard to Th-2 signalling (Dr G Davies). Work is ongoing regarding mechanisms underlying the association between adiposity and asthma, with a focus on Th-2 immunity and adipokine interactions. A recent study has examined the impact of obesity on airflow obstruction and on inflammatory phenotypes in asthma.
Leading on from translational work on asthma and obesity, Applied Asthma research includes an Asthma UK funded programme to assess an asthma-specific exercise intervention for children. NIHR funded work focuses on the development of asthma diagnostics in clinic and the bringing to market of new technology in collaboration with Engineering.