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What is Severe Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways (tubes) that carry air in and out of the lungs. The disease causes the airways to be sensitive to certain exposures (this varies from person to person) such as allergens, pollutants, and infections.  Common symptoms can include: wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and trouble breathing. Most patients with asthma can control their symptoms so that they do not need to alter most daily activities.

Severe asthma affects 10-15% of asthma patients. It can develop in childhood and later in life.  Patients with this form of asthma often don’t respond well to available treatment options and have their lives dramatically impacted by their disease.


Examples of asthma symptoms: Difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, chest tightness.

What is PrecISE?

PrecISE is a research study sponsored by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to understand how to treat different types of severe asthma. PrecISE will enroll 800 adults and teenagers (ages 12 years and older) with severe asthma who have symptoms that are not well-controlled or who have frequent asthma attacks. Each person who agrees to enroll in the PrecISE study will receive several treatments for research purposes based on their type of severe asthma. 

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Enrollment Goals for PrecISE: 650 adults, 150 adolescents.

How PrecISE is Different from Other Severe Asthma Studies

Many studies characterize participants based on their symptoms and/or their lung function, and use a treatment based on those symptoms. However, people with asthma may have similar symptoms, but different processes in their bodies that cause those symptoms. Since we now know that the symptoms of asthma can be caused in different ways, we also know that patients with similar symptoms do not respond in the same way to many treatments. This is part of the reason severe asthma is difficult to treat.  

PrecISE has two goals: 1) Research how to more easily identify some of the types of severe asthma. 2) Research treatments for the types of severe asthma being studied in PrecISE.

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Different treatment responses for patients who are different but have the same diagnosis and the same drug. Some have no benefit, side effects; some have benefit with side effects, some have benefit with no side effects, and some have no benefit and no side effects.
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