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Diagnosis and definition of severe refractory asthma: an international consensus statement from the Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI).

Patients with severe refractory asthma pose a major healthcare problem. Over the last decade it has become increasingly clear that, for the development of new targeted therapies, there is an urgent need for further characterisation and classification of these patients.

The Unbiased Biomarkers for the Prediction of Respiratory Disease Outcomes (U-BIOPRED) consortium is a pan-European public-private collaboration funded by the European Commission Innovative Medicines Initiative of the European Union. U-BIOPRED aims to subphenotype patients with severe refractory asthma by using an innovative systems biology approach. This paper presents the U-BIOPRED international consensus on the definition and diagnosis of severe asthma, aligning the latest concepts in adults as well as in children. The consensus is based on existing recommendations up to 2010 and will be used for the selection of patients for the upcoming U-BIOPRED study.

It includes the differentiation between 'problematic', 'difficult' and 'severe refractory' asthma, and provides a systematic algorithmic approach to the evaluation of patients presenting with chronic severe asthma symptoms for use in clinical research and specialised care.

The use of roflumilast in COPD: a primary care perspective

David Price, Alison Chisholm, Dermot Ryan, Alan Crockett, Rupert Jones

Optimising pharmacological maintenance treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in primary care

Rupert Jones, Anders Østrem

Respiratory Viruses, Eosinophilia and Their Roles in Childhood Asthma.

With the advent of highly sensitive and specific screening of respiratory specimens for viruses, new viruses are discovered, adding to the growing list of those associated with wheezing illness and asthma exacerbations. It is not known whether early childhood infections with these viruses cause asthma, and, if so, what exactly are the pathophysiologic mechanisms behind its development.

The current consensus is that respiratory viral infection works together with allergy to produce the immune and physiologic conditions necessary for asthma diasthesis. One link between viruses and asthma may be the eosinophil, a cell that plays a prominent role in asthma and allergy, but can also be found in the body in response to viral infection. In turn, the eosinophil and its associated products may be novel therapeutic targets, or at the very least, used to elucidate the complex pathophysiologic pathways of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Together or separately, they can be used for diagnosis, treatment and monitoring.

Not only symptoms, but also the underlying disease mechanisms must be taken into consideration for the optimal care of a patient.