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World AsthmaPhenotypes Study (WASP)

The World AsthmaPhenotypes Study (WASP) aims to better understand and characterise different sub-types (phenotypes) of asthma.

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The World AsthmaPhenotypes Study (WASP) aims to better understand and characterise different sub-types (phenotypes) of asthma.

Who we are

The World AsthmaPhenotypes Study (WASP) aims to better understand and characterise different sub-types (phenotypes) of asthma. Involved in the study are five centres; Bristol (UK), Wellington (New Zealand), Salvador (Brazil), Esmeraldas Province (Ecuador), Entebbe (Uganda).

About WASP

The World AsthmaPhenotypes Study (WASP) aims to better understand and characterise different sub-types (phenotypes) of asthma. This work is needed to better understand the aetiological mechanisms of asthma and to identify new causes and new treatments.

Most research has treated asthma as an “allergic disease”, but we have previously shown that less than one-half of asthma cases involve allergic mechanisms, and that the association between allergy and asthma is much weaker than in low-and-middle income countries than in high income countries. Research is needed into better ways of defining the different types of asthma, and to understand the balance between the types of asthma in areas with different risk factors and different levels of asthma prevalence. This is needed to enable low-and-middle income countries to avoid the asthma epidemic that has occurred in high-income countries. Better characterisation of the different types of asthma is also needed to enable better management and prevention of asthma in both high and low-and-middle income countries.

This study is going beyond previous work both by including low-middle income countries (and high/low prevalence centres), and by collecting much more detailed biological information than has been collected previously.  By identifying risk factors that are common to the different types of asthma in these different settings, the study will help to identify what causes asthma and this will inform both prevention and treatment.

The study is being conducted in five centres with a range of asthma prevalence levels and exposures (and a likely range of prevalence of the different types of asthma): (i) Bristol, UK; (ii) Wellington, New Zealand; (iii) Salvador, Brazil; (iv) Esmeraldas Province, Ecuador; and (v) Entebbe, Uganda. Detailed information will be collected from 200 asthmatics and 50 non-asthmatics in each centre, including sputum and nasal samples, blood samples, lung function and skin prick testing. Children and adolescents will be enrolled in all centres except Bristol where participants will be 26-27 years old.

The objectives of this study are to combine detailed biomarker and clinical information to: (i) better understand and characterise AsthmaPhenotypes in high income countries (HICs) and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and in high and low prevalence centres; (ii) compare their characteristics, including clinical severity; (iii) assess the risk factors for each phenotype; and (iv) assess how the distributions of phenotypes differs between high prevalence and low prevalence centres.

This research is important because it will lead to a better understanding of the causes of asthma, and raise the potential to prevent the global epidemic of asthma, which has occurred in high-income countries, and is beginning to occur in low-and-middle income countries.

The World AsthmaPhenotypes (WASP) collaboration is based on the AsthmaPhenotypes study which is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no. 668954.

Who We Are
Team Block
Principal Investigator
London UK
Centre PIs

Mauricio Barreto

Salvador, Brazil

John Henderson

Bristol, UK

Phil Cooper

Ecuador and London

Harriet Mpairwe

Entebbe, Uganda

Jeroen Douwes

Wellington, New Zealand
Other Steering Committee members
London, UK


London, UK

Alvaro Cruz

Bahia, Brazil

Camila Figueiredo

Bahia, Brazil

Sue Ring

Bristol, UK

Cristina Artura

Esmeraldas Province, Ecuador

Alison Elliott

Entebbe, Uganda

Beatrice Nassanga

Entebbe, Uganda

Collin Brooks

Wellington, New Zealand
Ethics Advisor

Rodolfo Saracci

Lyon, France
Administration at LSHTM
London, UK
Project administrator London, UK
Gallery WASP
Beach Photo WASP
WASP annual meeting, Salvador, Brazil, April 2017
Bristol training day March 2017
WASP training day, Bristol, March 2017

Pembrey L, Barreto ML, Douwes J, Cooper P, Henderson J, Mpairwe H, Ardura-Garcia C, Chico M, Brooks C, Cruz AA, Elliott AM, Figueiredo CA, Langan SM, Nassanga B, Ring S, Rodrigues L, Pearce N. Understanding asthma phenotypes: the World Asthma Phenotypes (WASP) international collaboration. ERJ Open Res 2018; 4: 00013-2018. []

Contact us

For scientific queries please contact Lucy Pembrey, London, UK

For administration queries, please contact Sarah Thorne, London, UK

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