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 strengths of researchers from top academic institutes, physicians, lung patients and social partners are combined, under the direction of the Lung Foundation Netherlands. Through intensive collaboration and sharing of knowledge, a medical breakthrough can be accelerated in the treatment of the still incurable lung diseases like asthma and COPD. In the Netherlands alone more than 1.2 million people suffer from the incurable lung diseases asthma and COPD. The first study that is to commence under Accelerate is for the prevention of asthma in children. Accelerate expects a first medical breakthrough within seven years.

'Really make a difference'

With the launch of Accelerate, the Lung Foundation Netherlands is answering the patients’ greatest wish: find accessible and effective solutions for their lung disease. The increasing number of people with lung disease, and corresponding societal and financial consequences, make finding a solution more urgent than ever. Scientists have indicated that a medical breakthrough is now within reach thanks to access to existing knowledge, new technologies and innovative insights. A condition for success here is that forces are joined internationally.

“Now we can really make a difference through taking control ourselves and actually working together on an accelerated solution for all the people with lung diseases. This is a well-founded and unique initiative with enormous potential for success. A medical breakthrough is closer by than ever before.”, says Michael Rutgers, director of the Lung Foundation Netherlands and the initiator and driver of the programme.

Patient involvement

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

Asthma prevention

The first research programme that is to start under Accelerate concerns preventing the development of asthma in children and will commence 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. Around 4,000 children annually are admitted to hospital as a result of serious shortness of breath.

Dr. Hermelijn Smits, scientist with the LUMC and chief researcher for the asthma prevention programme: 'By joining of forces, I am convinced that we will achieve the results we make a dream of come through and will, bringing a world without asthma a step closer. A solution we urgently need, because asthma is the biggest chronic childhood disease of our times.'

Results

The coming seven years will see three 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, emeritus-professor Radboud University Nijmegen. A quote from the jury report reads: “The clinical study with an intervention among young children could be the first study that demonstrates that the development of asthma in children could be prevented. The jury emphasised that major advances could be made.”