Patients attending Professor Brown’s clinics who have bronchiectasis are now being recruited for a Medical Research Council funded study into bronchiectasis called Bronch UK. This is the first study funded by the Medical Research Council into bronchiectasis for many years, and involves nine different centres across the United Kingdom including UCLH. The aim of the study is to describe the spectrum of disease caused by bronchiectasis, including the underlying causes, how severe the disease is and how it actually affects the patients’ quality of life.
In addition, the Bronch UK study has created a network of hospitals ready to do other research into bronchiectasis; for example, the Bronch UK network was used to obtain funding from the Health Technology Assessment scheme for a trial into how effective nebulized hypertonic saline could be in helping patients with bronchiectasis.
For the Bronch UK study, we aim to ask about 100 to 150 UCLH patients with bronchiectasis who are seen in Professor Brown’s clinics to take part. Patients who agree to take part need to fill in a couple of health questionnaires, donate a blood and sputum sample, and give permission for the details of their condition to be used by the researchers. There will be a repeat assessment of each volunteer participant in three years time, as that will allow us to identify what factors influence how patients fare over time.
So far at UCLH, we have recruited nearly 40 patients, and our very keen research nurse Joel Solis will be actively recruiting more patients for the study at the Friday morning clinics over the next few months. He will usually send a letter to selected patients a few days before they are coming to clinic to ask whether they would like to be involved, and then talk to each patient in depth at the clinic itself. Patients are selected randomly, and we would like to recruit about a third of patients coming to Professor Brown’s for the study. We hope to avoid volunteers for the Bronch UK study having to come back to the hospital outside of their appointment days by collecting the data and samples we need on the same day as the hospital appointment.
We are very grateful for the patients who have agreed to take part in the Bronch UK study so far – almost everyone asked to take part has so far said yes, and it is very gratifying to have such a positive response.
Bronch UK is an important study – it shows that the research funding bodes recognize that bronchiectasis is an important disease that needs further research, and the results from the study itself will tell us a lot about bronchiectasis that we did not know and will stimulate more research into bronchiectasis. This should all lead to better ways of treating patients and thereby reduce the problems this disease causes.