Search for asthma breakthrough
About 200 children will be involved in a study at Leicester's hospitals which could find new treatments for those with severe asthma.
Researchers from the University of Leicester will spend the next two years looking at how fungi found on the lungs affects the seriousness of the condition.
It is being led by Dr Erol Gaillard, a consultant and specialist for children's lung diseases.
He said: "Asthma is a big problem in the UK and in Leicester we are looking after about 300 children.
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"In many, the condition is well controlled with standard medication, usually inhalers.
"However, we have between 60 and 80 who are classified as having severe asthma, which is quite a large number.
"For these children, their quality of life can be quite poor. We know that fungi found on the lungs in adult patients may contribute to the severity of the disease.
"Our new research looks, in the first instance, at the effect of this fungi being present on the lungs of children between the ages of five to 16."
The study is being funded with £133,642 from the national children's charity, Action Medical Research.
It will be patient and laboratory-based using a special laboratory at Leicester Royal Infirmary – one of two in the country – where samples from the lower airways of children can be taken.
Dr Gaillard said: "We are all exposed to fungi in the environment. If we inhale them, the lungs in most of us will clear them. If we can establish the effect of this fungi on children's lungs there is the potential that other treatments may be available to help them."
In August, Dr Gaillard and his colleague, Dr Caroline Beardsmore, received a machine worth more than £28,000 to measure how fresh air breathed in is distributed throughout the lungs.
The machine, funded by the Midlands Asthma and Allergy Research Association, will be used as part of the new research.
Braunstone Frith mum, Lisa Carr has welcomed news of the new study. Her daughter, Roxanne, was diagnosed with asthma a year ago when she was two and Lisa is worried her six-year-old daughter Kacey may also be asthmatic.
She said: "Roxanne has to use inhalers in the morning and evening and, while it keeps it under control most of the time, we have to watch all the time to make sure she isn't coughing too much.
"We went to Cornwall on holiday and had to rush her to hospital because she had an attack."
Dr Caroline Johnston, research evaluation manager for Action Medical Research, said: "Our gold standard scientific research process ensures that we only fund the best doctors and researchers in children's hospitals, specialist units and universities and we are delighted to announce our latest grant awards.''