Further research is needed on all aspects of childhood asthma, including clinical as well as basic and genetic research. In particular, more data are needed on the environmental and genetic causes of childhood asthma in order for society to be able to take preventive measures.Asthma cannot be cured with current treatment, but we can reduce morbidity and improve our mastery over the illness. There is a need for research into new treatment approaches, especially in young children. In many countries in Europe the resources for independent research in this area are limited, and cooperation between centres, with the creation of networks of centres of excellence, should be encouraged.
Summary of research needs
Cohort studies: follow-up studies from birth to adulthood of entire cohorts, taking into consideration:
– Environmental factors: including outdoor and indoor pollution, the influence of infections and allergen exposure in early childhood and the long- term effects of anti-inflammatory treatment;
– Genetic factors of importance for asthma and airway inflammation: repeated sampling over time of DNA in birth cohorts enabling longitudinal studies on epigenetics as well as long-term tracking from birth to adulthood of lung function, bronchial responsiveness and markers of airway inflammation.
- Basic research into the aetiology and pathogenesis of asthma, allergy, airway inflammation, bronchial hyperresponsiveness and exercise-induced asthma.
- Intervention studies to evaluate primary and secondary preventive measures, including attempts to prevent/ reduce respiratory epithelial barrier damage.
- Epidemiological studies to enable more comprehensive Europe-wide monitoring of asthma prevalence, morbidity and hospitalisation.
- Clinical studies to develop new treatment modalities.
- International studies comparing quality of asthma care and health economics in order to optimise the quality of asthma care throughout Europe.