Fan Chung

Kian Fan Chung is Professor of Respiratory Medicine and Head of Experimental Studies at National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College London, and Respiratory Physician at the Royal Brompton Hospital, London.  He has a major interest in developing precision medicine and treatments as applied to asthma and chronic obstructive airways disease. Other research focus include the role of airway smooth muscle and effects of oxidant stress on airway epithelial function, on the mechanisms underlying corticosteroid insensitivity in asthma and COPD, on the impact of environmental pollution and nanoparticles, and on neuro-inflammatory pulmonary mechanisms. He has participated in the IMI-funded EU/EFPIA UBIOPRED project on Systems Biology of severe asthma and in the EU-funded AirPROM project and is currently an Investigator of Horizon 2020 MyAirCoach project. He is a Senior Investigator of the UK National Institute for Health Research. 

Asthma is a very common disease. In Europe, at least one in ten children has asthma symptoms. Globally, an estimated 300 million people are living with the condition. For people with asthma, their inhaler plays a central role in managing the condition. These simple drug delivery devices have been used for decades to deliver medication to the lungs. Regular treatment with inhaled controller medication helps to keep asthma under control and, for some patients, ‘rescue’ or relief medication can limit the impact of an exacerbation (or ‘asthma attack’). The inhaler remains state-of-the art in drug delivery for asthma sufferers and will continue to be a companion for patients around the world. However, in the decades since it was first designed, we are now seeing important advances in technology: sensors allowing physiological and environmental information to be collected quickly, and digital communication facilitates real-time connectivity between devices, patients and clinics. Asthma inhalers 2.0 The myAirCoach consortium, funded through the EU Horizon 2020 research programme, has been working to extend the utility of inhalers by developing adaptors to make inhalers smarter that we hope can use technology to improve outcomes for patients. Companies, hospitals and universities – in collaboration with patients – have been working to improve inhalers so that we can get as much information as possible about how the patient uses their device and information about the state of the lungs and the immediate environment. One potential benefit is in improving how inhalers are used. While most patients can swallow a pill, using an inhaler correctly can be tricky. Patients have to trigger the metered-dose inhaler at the same time as taking a deep breath, for example, and this is not easy – especially for children and elderly patients. Crucially, patients and their doctors often do not know whether the...