The Imperial Clinical Respiratory Research Unit (ICRRU) is based at St Mary's Hospital.

The Imperial Clinical Respiratory Research Unit (ICRRU) at St Mary’s Hospital works closely with clinicians and Imperial College London to develop new methods of sampling the airways, identification of biomarkers, and testing of new therapies and vaccines for respiratory diseases.

Respiratory disease is a major cause of morbidity and death in the UK and worldwide. Asthma affects one child in seven in the UK and 300 million individuals worldwide. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth most common cause of death worldwide, while lung cancer is the commonest cancer in the UK. Influenza causes worldwide pandemics and the next epidemic could take place at any time, while rhinovirus (common cold virus) is the main cause of asthma attacks and COPD.

Researchers at ICCRU are leading the fight against this growing health threat by conducting research and clinical trials, including developing allergen and virus challenges in volunteers. The Unit has specialised facilities such as ventilated body boxes, to allow challenges and sputum collection. It also has six procedure and clinical rooms for patients as well as a processing laboratory.

In particular, ICRRU uses non-invasive precision sampling techniques to test the airway surface, involving blotting for nasal and bronchial lining fluid, and scraping (micro-curettage and brushing), to enable assessment of the molecular basis of airway inflammation.

Particular achievements of the Unit include playing a leading role in the national MOSAIC influenza study, a study of novel cells and mediators involved in asthma, and the development of novel bloods test for tuberculosis.

The centre works closely in cooperation with clinicians working at St Mary’s Hospital and is supported in part by the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).