The Launch of LONGFONDS | Accelerate

With a press release on Wednesday 13th of December, the  Lung Foundation Netherlands announced the Accelerate programme. The news was spread through various channels, among which the largest news organization of the Netherlands - the NOS. See the NOS-item.

The Lung Foundation Netherlands has taken the initiative to bring together top academic institutes in two international consortiums that focus on a solution for asthma and COPD. In the Netherlands alone, more than 1.2 million people suffer from these still incurable lung diseases.
Scientists have indicated that a medical breakthrough can be accelerated when and if knowledge, new technologies and innovative insights are combined and developed further. Joining forces on an international scale is the most important condition for success. Under the direction of the independent Lung Foundation Netherlands, such an international collaboration is now possible. A first medical breakthrough is expected within seven years.

'Really make a difference'

The increasing number of people with a lung disease, and corresponding personal, societal and financial consequences, make finding a solution more urgent than ever.

“Now we can really make a difference through taking control ourselves and actually working together on an accelerated solution for all those with a lung disease. This collaboration has an enormous potential for success. A medical breakthrough is closer by than ever before.”, says Michael Rutgers, director of the Lung Foundation Netherlands.

Patient involvement

Accelerate specifically involves patients in this research programme. They collaborate for the duration of the research programme through a Patient Advisory Committee. “The needs of lung patients are of the great importance. We are doing this for everyone with a lung disease. We plan to continue the Accelerate programme until solutions have been found and impact has been achieved.”, ads Michael Rutgers.

Asthma prevention

The first international consortium launched within the LONGFONDS | Accelerate programme focusses on the prevention of asthma in children will be launched 1 January 2018. Asthma is a chronic illness: the complaints can be combatted, but the cause cannot yet be eradicated. Children with asthma can often be extremely short of breath. Annually, some 4,000 Dutch children are admitted to hospital as a result of serious shortness of breath.

Dr. Hermelijn Smits, scientist with the LUMC and consortium leader for the asthma prevention programme: "By joining of forces, I am convinced that we will achieve our goals and make a dream come true: bringing a world without asthma a step closer. A solution we urgently need, because asthma is the biggest chronic childhood disease of our time.’’

Results

The coming seven years will see five tangible solutions being worked on: a milk powder that can protect a considerable group of children from asthma and allergies; a predictive diagnostic test to determine which children can benefit from extra protection and tangible basic elements for supplementary preventive treatment based on farm dust, worm parasites and/or dietary supplements. The asthma prevention research will be executed by researchers from internationally renowned institutes in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, England and Australia.

International jury: excellent appraisal

The proposal for the asthma prevention research programme was appraised as excellent by an independent international jury of experts in the field of lungs under the direction of prof. dr. Jos van der Meer (professor emeritus at Radboud University Nijmegen, NL). A quote from the jury report reads: “This clinical study among 2700 young children could well be the first intervention study that demonstrates that the development of asthma in children can be prevented. The jury emphasises that major steps forward can be possible.”