LSTM’s respiratory group is recruiting volunteers for two new studies looking understand why people who are older or who have conditions such as asthma are vulnerable to developing pneumonia.
These two new studies are based around a unique type of study design, the Experimental Human Pneumococcal Carriage (EHPC) model. The model was developed at LSTM and no other studies of this kind are carried out anywhere else in the world. The model allows for volunteers to have a small drop of the pneumococcus bacteria placed into their nose, mimicking the natural history of bacteria which is commonly found in the noses of children and adults without causing ill effects. However, these same bacteria are also the most common cause of pneumonia and a range of other illnesses, particularly affecting young babies, frail elderly people and people living with chronic diseases.
While the reasons that these groups are susceptible to pneumonia is currently unclear, ground-breaking research at LSTM is set to address some of the major gaps in the understanding of the disease. LSTM will work with the Royal Liverpool University Hospital on these two new studies, one of which will focus on people with mild asthma while the other will look at healthy volunteers aged 50-84 year old. Both studies are funded by grants of over £4million from the Medical Research Council and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
LSTM’s Dr Daniela Ferreira is leading the use of EHPC. She said: “Every day, many people in Liverpool and around the world are admitted to hospital with pneumonia, and it is particularly important that we understand the reasons that the very young, the older and those with chronic conditions are so disproportionately affected. Our model offers us the opportunity to record how the immune system responds to a controlled colonisation by the bacteria in safe way, with over 500 having people already taken part in studies using the model in Liverpool to date. By studying this response I believe that we can identify why these particular groups are vulnerable to developing pneumonia, and ultimately can use this data to develop a vaccine to boost the immune response and protect people from developing this common and serious illness.”
If you would like to take part in either of these studies read more about it here.