Startling results of a research trial in Bradford into the effectiveness of a drug to treat severe allergic asthma have been presented to the European Respiratory Society congress in Vienna.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was one of several centres taking part in a Novartis Pharmaceuticals trial of a drug called omalizumab, a humanised monoclonal antibody that blocks the action of immunoglobulin E, an antibody involved in the underlying mechanism of allergic asthma, a chronic condition which affects an estimated 14,315 people in the UK.

Asthma causes an average of three deaths in the UK every day, 90 per cent of which are preventable with the right management.

Dr Dinesh Saralaya, a consultant respiratory physician at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said the findings showed long-term treatment with omalizumab significantly improved a range of outcomes for people with severe persistent allergic asthma.

People using the drug for two years or more saw a 100 per reduction in GP visits, admissions to intensive care units were reduced by up to 95.2 per cent, hospital bed days were reduced by up to 97.8 per cent, accident and emergency visits were reduced by up to 82.1 per cent and the mean maintenance dose of oral corticosteroids was reduced by up to 68.3 per cent.

Dr Saralaya, who presented the findings in Vienna yesterday, said: “For the first time we are able to demonstrate that long-term treatment with omalizumab delivers sustained, real-life benefits for people with severe persistent allergic asthma.

“These data show just how effective omalizumab can be at slashing ICU admissions, A&E visits and other dependencies on healthcare services, allowing people with severe persistent allergic asthma to enjoy a significantly improved quality of life and reducing the burden on the limited resources of the NHS.”

In Bradford, 31 patients took part in the trial, with only two having to stop treatment. It involved having an injection every two to four weeks.

One of those taking part was Amanda Hirst, 26, of Dudley Hill . She has suffered from asthma since birth and in her 20s it became life-threatening. She was unable to work and was being admitted to intensive care after attacks.

After taking the drug she reported feeling much better and was even able to take part-time work again.

She said: “I can just get on with my life and not worry too much. It is making a big difference to my life.”