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Stories from December, 2020

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An Ode to 2020

To mark the end of this difficult year, one of our lovely supporters has written this poem:

 

Wishing all our family and friends a very Happy New Year!!

Goodbye 2020: farewell, adieu,

We’re so glad to see the back of you!

You’ve brought so much hardship, sorrow and pain,

We hope never to see your like again.

You ruined our Holidays and plans this year,

And caused our nation to live mostly in fear.

Tight restrictions and lockdowns made us all see

How important it is just to be free.

We will look back at you in years to come

As a time when we all had to stay at home.

At midnight tonight, when you depart,

Your legacy will be many a broken heart.

And so we rejoice this New Year’s Eve

As dastardly 2020 finally takes its leave!

Here’s to a Happy New Year everyone!!!

 

Our Christmas and New Year Message

We hope that you and your families are all well and have survived 2020.  Thank you all so much for supporting us during this tough time.

It has been a strange year and a very busy one.  In March, many of our research staff took up the call to work on the frontline and the rest of the team worked hard on COVID-19 clinical studies to find life-saving treatments.

COVID-19 is a Respiratory disease, one that especially affects the Respiratory tract, and we are beginning to learn more about the lungs through this research.

It is clear that the SARS-CoV-2 virus (that causes COVID) is unusual.  It can affect the blood vessels resulting in a constellation of symptoms. One of the startling findings is that we are seeing new pulmonary fibrosis develop in about 6 of every 100 COVID patients that are admitted to hospital, and in around 3 in 100 of those treated in the community with mild COVID. It also appears to worsen fibrosis in patients who already have lung fibrosis, so access to the vaccine for our patients with pulmonary fibrosis is vital.  We are particularly interested in why some people get fibrosis after COVID and others don’t and we hope this will provide crucial insights into the whole spectrum of pulmonary fibrosis. We are closely following nearly 1000 patients who were admitted to UCLH with COVID or who been referred to us with breathing problems after COVID infection. Understanding how many get better, and how many have progressive fibrosis is critical for patients and the NHS to plan ahead.

Unfortunately, even after getting rid of the virus, many patients will continue to have symptoms that can be very debilitating. Breathing Matters has supported the national Urgent Public Health study, PHOSP-COVID. This study will discover what the long-term effects on health might be after being hospitalised with COVID-19 infection.

We have of course also been deeply committed to helping in delivering trials of new vaccines at UCLH. It is wonderful that we have not only one, but maybe as many as three different effective vaccines. We are hopeful that widespread vaccination will bring us all a return to normality in 2021.

Of course through all this, the main thing that has kept Breathing Matters and the team going is your vital, continuous and unwavering support.  Many health charities have seen dramatic reductions in income over 2020 with little respite in 2021. We hope that by keeping our overheads as low as possible and bringing in funding from other sources, and with your help, we can weather this storm.

Fundraising has taken a back seat this year with fundraising events, including the London Marathon and the Prudential Ride London cancelled.  However, we do have plenty of virtual events to whet your fundraising appetite, including a Virtual Christmas Concert given by the excellent Holst Singers. If you want to plan a future challenge overseas in 2021/2022, we have plenty of amazing events including the Northern Lights Trek in Iceland, Yosemite to San Fran cycle and a trek around the Great Wall of China. For inspiration, take a look at our Events Page.

In January, Breathing Matters will be 10 years old.  We have come a long way in a decade.  Particular highlights have included the following:

  • Our development of relative non-invasive cryoscopic lung biopsy as an alternative to chest surgery to biopsy the lung, to make a confident diagnosis of fibrosis and rule out other conditions that would require different treatments.
  • Our findings that FDG-PET scans can detect the changes of early lung fibrosis before a regular CT scan and may provide a very sensitive way to measure response to therapy in patients with pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Our 10 year collaboration with Vicore which will see a new drug (C21) being tested in patients with IPF with a study set to start recruiting in early 2021.
  • Our understanding of the role of the white blood cells, neutrophils, in the development of pulmonary fibrosis which may lead to novel blood biomarkers to assess patients most at risk and help us develop novel approaches to therapy.
  • Participation in the multicentre Bronch UK research project which includes around ten hospitals across the UK. This is the first such study and will help us learn a lot more about bronchiectasis and how best to treat it.
  • Completion of two phase I trials of novel vaccines against Streptococcus pneumoniae, the commonest cause of pneumonia, partly or wholly developed by Professor Brown’s laboratory.
  • Published important data on how common bronchiectasis is in the UK, showing that, far from being a disease that is dying out, it is increasingly common and is associated with an increase in mortality including perhaps surprisingly from diseases of the heart and large blood vessels. These data are quoted by all the major guidelines for bronchiectasis and have helped promote awareness of the disease as well as shown the high need for further research.

In 2021, we will focus back on our pulmonary fibrosis and lung infection work with renewed vigour and with the firm belief that, as a community, we can overcome anything if we all do our bit.

If you would like to donate to support our research, you can do this via our JustGiving Page. Thank you to our regular donors that make such a difference to our research and enables us to plan our future projects.  If you are interesting in giving regularly, please read our article.

Thank you all for your vital support.  Together we have hope and together we are stronger.

We would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and here’s to a healthier New Year!

From Everyone at Breathing Matters

 

 

 

Christmas with the Holst Singers

Very sadly, we are unable to be all together this December for our annual Christmas Concert at St Pancras Church, but to bring us all together at this special time of year, our friends in the Holst Singers have very kindly donated a recording of a small selection of carols for us.

The recording begins with a presentation by Professor Brown and Jane Walker which gives an insight into life at UCLH this year during the pandemic with reference to its impact on patients with bronchiectasis and also on our fundraising activities.

Please click here to listen to our Christmas recording.

If you would like to make a donation towards research into bronchiectasis and pneumonia led by Professor Brown and his team at UCL Respiratory, please click here
(Please use Google search engine to download the recording link).

With our warm wishes for Christmas and New Year 2021.

From Breathing Matters

Our grateful thanks to the Holst Singers and to the Lord Taverners for supporting this recording.

Regular Donors Rock

Did you know, the average person in the UK will give nearly £30,000 to charitable causes throughout their lifetime.  The UK is in the Top 10 most generous countries of the world – almost 70% gave to charity in 2018!

We are so lucky at Breathing Matters to have some amazing supporters who give regular monthly donations to help our vital research.  A small donation goes a very long way at Breathing Matters as we have little overheads which enables your donations to go straight to where it counts – the research itself!  Regular giving provides us with much needed funds that we can rely on and this can help us plan our research projects for the future.

 

We would like to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to our regular givers – you know who you are!  We depend on your regular gifts – you really do make a difference!

 

At a time when our lungs need help more than ever, if any of our community is interested in supporting Breathing Matters on a regular basis and don’t currently do so, we hope that you will consider pledging a monthly gift to support our research.

To set up a regular gift, all you need to do is:

  1. Download and complete the Standing Order Form here
  2. Hand this in to your bank so they can set up the Standing Order.
  3. Return a copy to Breathing Matters at breathingmatters@ucl.co.uk 

Have a look at our updated pulmonary fibrosis wish list:

£5 – For equipment to take blood from a patient with pulmonary fibrosis/IPF for research.

£10 – For a specialised test to look at novel biomarkers in the blood of IPF patients.

£20 – For staining 4 slides of lung tissue from IPF patients to study novel molecules and link these with molecular imaging scans.

£30 – For growing individual fibroblasts (cells that produce the scarring) in the lab from the lungs of patients with IPF.

£40 – For an hour of a clinical fellow.

£50 – For analysis of a novel molecular imaging (PET) scan in an IPF patient.

£100 – For a spirometer to use at home to track patients without needing them to come into hospital – our remote monitoring project.

£500 – For isolating the platelets from patients with IPF so that we can examine them in the laboratory and compare them to platelets from people with normal lungs.

£5,000 – For equipment and running costs for a ‘Western Bot’ which allows us to look at abnormal proteins in the lungs of IPF patients.

£50,000 – For pump priming a blue sky research proposal: Allows a senior clinician to undertake a substantial period of research (a year or more) as a named research fellow to develop an hypothesis that is then submitted for full funding (£300K+) from a medical research charity.