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Published: 2023-01-24

Joining forces for research on asthma, allergy, and airways

NEWS "Breathe Sweden", a digital platform for researchers who collect studies on diseases and disorders of the respiratory tract, has now been launched. The initiative enhances scope for Nordic collaboration in large population studies.

Text: Elin Lindström, Göteborgs universitet

The Andas Sverige platform was launched in 2022 to enable the Swedish-speaking public to find non-specialist information about current research on respiratory disorders and diseases. "Breathe Sweden" is now to be an English-language sister platform for collaboration among researchers in asthma, allergy, and respiratory research.

“Breathe Sweden affords better scope for mutual understanding and collaboration in solving various research questions among researchers in the field of respiratory disorders and allergies. It’s a platform that brings together data from several large population studies, which boosts capacity.”

The speaker is researcher Bright Nwaru, whose group at the Krefting Research Centre, University of Gothenburg, is leading work on Andas Sverige and Breathe Sweden, jointly with other researchers such as Helena Backman of Umeå University.

Nwaru gives an example of research that can be implemented thanks to the Breathe Sweden initiative and may culminate in means of distinguishing various subtypes of asthma in adults.

“Based on two of the large population studies included, it’s now going to be possible to investigate how the interplay between heredity and environment is expressed in adults with asthma. Thanks to the huge quantity of data, we can implement sophisticated data-driven methods in the research field known as ‘phenotyping.’ This could bring about precision medicine for every subtype of asthma,” Nwaru says.

Boundary-crossing collaborations

The researchers’ Breathe Sweden platform is entirely in English.

“Our hope is that we’re now creating better conditions for joint projects in asthma, allergy, and respiratory research, where we can collaborate in large population studies across the Nordic regional and national borders,” says Helena Backman, researcher at Umeå University and Region Norrbotten.

Population studies in a single location

The Breathe Sweden platform has just been launched and is accessed at www.breathesweden.com. To date, it has collected Sweden’s seven biggest population studies in allergy and respiratory health. Together, these studies include data on some 350,000 people with various forms of respiratory impairment. More studies are still being invited to join the platform.

The seven studies at the time of launching are:

  • WSAS (West Sweden Asthma Study) — University of Gothenburg
  • OLIN (Obstructive Lung Disease in Northern Sweden) — Region Norrbotten and Umeå University
  • CWS (Children of Western Sweden) — University of Gothenburg
  • BAMSE (Swedish abbreviation for Children, Allergy, Milieu, Stockholm, Epidemiology) — Karolinska Institute
  • SCIFI-PEARL (Swedish Covid-19 Investigation for Future Insights — A Population Epidemiology Approach Using Register Linkage) — University of Gothenburg
  • SNAR (Swedish National Airway Register) — Region Norrbotten and University of Gothenburg
  • STOPPA (Swedish Twin study On Perinatal characteristics to Prevent Asthma) — Karolinska Institute.

The Andas Sverige and Breathe Sweden initiative is part of STELLAR (Respiratory Epidemiology Research Platform), which is funded by the Swedish Research Council.

The Andas Sverige website provides brief summaries of studies conducted in the projects. These summaries contribute to the platform in a nonspecialist way. The website addresses the public, research participants, funders, and other interested parties.

More information

Breathe Sweden is a new collective website, in English, that caters for researchers studying diseases affecting the respiratory tract: www.breathesweden.com.

Andas Sverige is a nonspecialist website that addresses the public, patients, decisionmakers, funders, and participants in research studies: www.andassverige.se.

WSAS: Since 2008, 42,000 people have taken part in the West Sweden Asthma Study, a research project conducted by the Krefting Research Center at the University of Gothenburg. More information about WSAS

OLIN: Over 30 years, 50,000 people participated in the Obstructive Lung Disease in Norrbotten (OLIN) research study.
More information about the OLIN studies on Region Norrbotten.

Bright Nwaru Group - read more on GU:s website.

Helena Backman, researcher at Umeå University and project leader within the OLIN studies, is collaborating with Bright Nwaru in the Breathe Sweden initiative.

Contact information

Bright Nwaru: 46 760 642 614 or bright.nwaru@gu.se.
Researcher at the University of Gothenburg.

Helena Backman: 46 702 108 900 or Helena.backman@norrbotten.se.
Researcher at Umeå University and Region Norrbotten.