In April, a new research registrar, Dr Jocelyn Hall, will join the lung infection group for at least one year. She will be dividing her time between working with patients in the bronchiectasis clinic and on the ward, and starting some new research projects into bronchiectasis. In particular, she will be investigating how bronchiectasis affects the immune response to important causes of lung infection such as Streptococcus pneumoniae. The Brown group has new methods of looking at how someone’s immune system recognises the bacteria and these will be used in patients with bronchiectasis to see whether there are any weaknesses in their ability to fight off lung bacteria that might mean they are more likely to get infections.
In November, new UCL research into bronchiectasis findings were published in the European Respiratory Journal. In this study by one of our previous research registrars Dr Arash Saleh and led by Dr John Hurst, we looked into risk factors for cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, angina and strokes) in patients with bronchiectasis. We previously published a paper using data from GP patient databases to show that people with bronchiectasis have roughly double the chance of having cardiovascular disease that would be expected. In the new paper, we have looked more closely at 101 people with bronchiectasis using a special ultrasound machine to measure the stiffness of the blood vessels in their arm. What we found was that the arteries were stiffer than expected, especially in patients with reduced breathing capacity or frequent infective exacerbations. This is important as stiffer arteries are more likely to cause cardiovascular disease. Hence these results back up the previous epidemiology paper and further demonstrate that, as well as looking after the lungs, we need to think about reducing cardiovascular risk in patients with bronchiectasis.