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Understanding Asthma Research

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last Reviewed: February 2021

When you or a loved one are living with a disease, research on that disease can become a huge area of interest for you. Research helps doctors learn more about a health condition and why a certain drug or device is effective or not. A cure is the primary goal of research. But while doctors work toward that goal, they learn more about treatments that may improve the quality of your life while living with asthma.

Current asthma research

Research helps doctors understand more about asthma, including its causes and treatments. There are thousands of clinical trials currently available for the research of asthma. Some of the current asthma research includes:1,2

  • Understanding the role of the immune system in asthma
  • The effect of mold on severe asthma
  • Improving treatment of severe asthma in kids
  • Looking at how genes play a role in how the immune system reacts in asthma
  • Studying different drugs and how they can help treat asthma
  • The effect of exercise and daily management of asthma
  • Various education methods for both adults and kids in managing asthma at home

Research is the key to solving the mysteries of asthma and improving the daily life of those with asthma. Even though asthma is the topic of many clinical trials, asthma continues to affect millions of people worldwide.1

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Different types of asthma research

There are different types of asthma research. Each type may help guide doctors to answer different questions about the disease. The different types of research include:3

  • Basic research
  • Population-based studies
  • Clinical trials

Basic research helps doctors better understand what causes a disease or why a particular drug works and another does not. This type of research is driven by the curiosity of doctors wanting answers to unsolved issues.3

Population-based studies look at a group of people from the general population who have something in common. For instance, they could all have a health condition like asthma. The group could be studied to see their response to a particular drug, for example.3

Clinical trials answer specific questions about a new drug or medical device. When a drug or device is invented, doctors need to know how well it works compared to older drugs or devices. Also, new drugs and devices have unknown doses and side effects. Clinical trials help to answer these unknown questions.

There are 4 stages of clinical trials:3

  • Phase I – A very small group of people take the new drug for the first time to find safety, dose, and side effects. Less than 25 people may be involved in a Phase I trial.
  • Phase II – A larger group takes the drug to see how well it works and if it is still safe. It varies, but a phase II trial may have just 50 to 300 participants.
  • Phase III – At this point, the drug is thought to be safe enough to give to large groups of people. Doctors continue to look for side effects, how well it works, and compare it to other drugs. Several hundred to a few thousand people may be taking the drug at this point.
  • Phase IV – The drug is now marketed to the public and even larger groups of people are able to take the drug. The government and drug companies gather information about how the drug works in a larger, more diverse population. They also look for new or different side effects that happen with long-term use.

If a drug or device appears to be unsafe at any stage, the clinical trial is stopped. The doctors involved in the research then explain what they believe went wrong.

How do I get involved?

Asthma doctors need people like you to contribute to finding better treatment and possibly a cure for asthma. Joining a clinical trial may be right for you. Talk to your doctor about your desire to contribute to asthma research. For additional information, you can search for clinical trials that are currently accepting participants.2