Clinical trial could be a matter of life or death

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If anyone finds it hard to imagine how worrying it might be to live with the constant fear of an asthma attack, then the sufferers’ stories we publish today provide a graphic insight.

They are the experiences of men and women who know that they might at any time find themselves at the centre of a life-or-death medical emergency. One of them, Melodie Bailey, puts it succinctly.

‘It’s very hard living with asthma. It’s a nightmare really. Your life revolves around it and I had to change a lot of things when I was diagnosed. I used to be very active and played hockey, and now I can’t do anything like that.’

‘You never know when they’re going to come on.

‘They are very scary when they do. You’re basically fighting for breath. It’s horrendous.’

Like other patients who have told their stories, she takes medication which hopefully will keep a severe problem at bay.

And all now share another common link – they are taking part in a clinical trial that could improve their lot and that of millions of other people like them.

The purpose of the trial being carried out at the University of Portsmouth is to find a simple way of predicting asthma attacks.

People with the condition who are taking part in the trial are having regular tests to determine the clotting factor of their blood.

These checks are particularly important during an asthma attack – or as soon after as is possible – and throughout the period of recovery, because scientists at the university, working with physicians at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, believe that they can demonstrate that a change in a person’s blood can herald the onset of an attack.

That, of course, would lead to a better opportunity for patients to predict an imminent problem and take extra precautionary measures. And in extreme cases, that could well save lives.

So we hope very much that the trials are a success. They demonstrate the level of expertise in our university and at our main hospital, which is not just a place for treating illnesses and diseases but also for helping to prevent them in the first place.