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The University of Southampton

Research project: Chinese Herbal medicine to aid AnTibiotic use reduction in exacerbation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a major health problem in China and in the UK, and is projected to be the third most important cause of death globally by 2020. Research conducted by the World Bank estimated that 25 million people lived with COPD in China in 2010, and this would increase to over 42 million by 2020 and 55 million by 2030. Patients with COPD have on average two to three episodes of "acute exacerbation" (AECOPD) per year, although patients with severe COPD may have even more.

chat copd logo

In the UK, mild exacerbations are treated in primary care, but in China more are admitted to hospital. Antibiotics are widely used to treat exacerbations and NICE guidelines recommend their use. Many patients require several courses of antibiotics to treat their episode. Treatment with antibiotics (especially longer courses and repeated courses), and admission to hospital, all increase the risk of AMR. It is estimated AMR will be responsible for 10 million deaths by 2050. In China, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are already found in about one in three patients with acute exacerbations of COPD.

Preliminary research in China has suggested that use of a patent traditional Chinese medicine (PTCM), called "Shufeng Jiedu" (SFJD), when given together with antibiotics to patients with AECOPD, can reduce risk of admission to hospital, and duration of admission.

The UK-China collaborating project brings together leading experts at University of Southampton and Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and a consortium of industry partners (Jiren China and Phoenix Medical Ltd), to work on three linked studies with aims to:

  1. Investigate the antimicrobial properties of SFJD in the human lung tissue using a laboratory-based model;
  2. Implement a feasibility trial (EXCALIBUR, to be linked to the SCTU’s EXALIBUR website (in preparation): to determine the feasibility of conducting a fully powered clinical trial of SFJD in addition to best current practice for AECOPD in primary care in the UK; and
  3. Compile a full dossier on SFJD, including non-clinical and clinical evidence on each of its eight component herbs and interactions between and among these herbs, to enable its registration as a Traditional Medicinal Product in the UK, and to facilitate an application for a clinical trials license to conduct a full-scale clinical trial in the UK.

This project will provide novel findings on using herbal medicine in human lung explant, produce feasibility findings for a future full trial for SJFD, and will build up the application for the first patent herbal mixture to be registered in the UK/EU countries.

Local Investigators:

Prof Michael Moore, Prof Gareth Griffith, Prof Tom Wilkinson, Prof Mike Thomas, Prof Nick Francis, Dr Merlin Willcox, Dr Xiao-Yang (Mio) Hu

Study team:

Southampton Primary Care and Population Sciences
Prof Michael Moore

Dr Merlin Willcox

Dr Xiao-Yang (Mio) Hu

Dr Jeanne Trill

Prof Nick Francis

Prof Mike Thomas

Dr Beth Stuart

Ms Zhi-Jie Wang

Southampton Respiratory and allergy Research group

Prof Tom Wilkinson

Dr Karl Staples

Southampton Clinical Trial Unit

Prof Gareth Griffiths

Dr Jacqui Nuttall

Mrs Catherine Simpson

Mr Tom Oliver

Mrs Fran Webley


Prof Paul Little

Prof Jian-Ping Liu

Funder: This project is funded by Innovate UK and Phoenix Medical Ltd (grant no. 104287-610239).

Duration: 1st April 2019     End date: 31st March 2022

 CHAT COPD Website (In progress)

Related research groups

Primary Care & Population Sciences
Primary Care Research group
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