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Project overview

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common lung condition that causes breathing problems and limits airflow. It affects millions of people worldwide and is a leading cause of illness and death. In the UK alone, there are around 3 million people with COPD, and it costs the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds each year. One major complication of COPD is acute exacerbations, which are sudden worsening of symptoms that need extra treatment. These flare-ups are often triggered by infections, like bacteria or viruses, and they can be serious, leading to hospitalisations and even death. Currently, antibiotics are commonly used to treat these flare-ups, but they're not always necessary and can contribute to antibiotic resistance.

To address this issue, researchers are exploring alternative treatments, such as herbal medicines. One herbal medicine called Shufeng Jiedu® (SFJD) has shown promise in treating respiratory infections in China. It contains eight Chinese herbs traditionally used for respiratory conditions. Studying SFJD in UK primary care could help determine if it's a safe and effective alternative to antibiotics for COPD flare-ups, potentially reducing unnecessary antibiotic use and improving patient outcomes.

The project includes three key parts: 1). An Ex vivo study, with an overall aim to investigate the antimicrobial properties of Shufeng Jiedu (SFJD) on NTHi in a lung explant model of infection. 2). EXCALIBUR: A phase 3 double-blind, placebo controlled randomised feasibility trial, to determine the feasibility of conducting a fully powered trial of SFJD as an addition to antibiotics for the treatment of acute exacerbations of COPD in the UK primary care setting. 3). Evidence synthesis and Traditional Herbal Registration.


Lead researcher
Other researchers

Dr Xiao-Yang (Mio) Hu

Senior Research Fellow

Research interests

  • Evidence-based Integrative and Complementary Medicine
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship
  • Mixed Methods Research

Dr Merlin Willcox

Clinical Lecturer in General Practice

Research interests

  • Global maternal and child health
  • Antibiotic stewardship
  • Systematic reviews

Professor Paul Little

Professor in Primary Care Research

Professor Nick Francis

Head of School

Research interests

  • Infections in primary care
  • Antimicrobial stewardship
  • Respiratory infections

Professor Gareth Griffiths

Director Clinical Trials Unit

Research outputs

Ruyu Xia,
Yutong Fei,
Lishan Zhang,
Zhijun Jie,
Xiaoyun Fan,
Mengyuan Dai,
Changhao Liang,
Guanghe Fei,
& Jianping Liu
, 2023 , BMJ Open , 13 (9)
Type: article
Jeanne Trill,
Zhijie Wang,
Yu Zhang,
, 2022 , Pharmacological Research - Modern Chinese Medicine , 2
Type: article
Xiao Wen Zhang,
Ru Yu Xia,
Jia Qi Gao,
Jin Jun Liu,
De Hao Xu,
Xun Li,
Meng Yuan Dai,
Jeanne Trill,
Yu Tong Fei,
& Jian Ping Liu
, 2022 , Frontiers in Pharmacology , 13
Type: article
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