Research update

At Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals, not only do our consultants treat patients, but they are also at the forefront of cutting-edge research into new and improved treatments for heart and lung conditions. Our patients are then amongst the first to benefit from the latest treatments. Here is a sample of some of their latest findings. 

New drug to help lung patients

Each year around 35,000 people in Europe are diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals is one of the leading centres in the UK for IPF treatment, and runs several clinical trials into the condition.

An international clinical trial, led by consultant respiratory physician Professor Toby Maher, has shown some promising results for patients. This clinical trial, known as FLORA, investigated the drug GLPG1690.

The main aim of this trial was to determine whether this drug would be well tolerated in patients with IPF. What the researchers found was that not only was the drug well tolerated but that it helped to reduce the rapid decline in lung function seen in patients with IPF.

Professor Maher said: “Although new treatments have recently become available, IPF remains a progressive and life-shortening disease. [This clinical trial] has generated exciting results.”

International heart failure study recruits first UK patient

An international clinical trial investigating a new device for people with heart failure has recruited its first UK patient at Harefield Hospital.

The study – Baroreflex Activation Therapy® for Heart Failure (BEAT-HF) – is led by consultant cardiologist Dr Rebecca Lane, and aims to investigate the safety and efficacy of this device in people with heart failure.

The device is designed to stimulate the body’s baroreceptors (blood pressure sensors in the blood vessels). It is thought that when these baroreceptors are stimulated the blood vessels relax, the heart slows down, and the kidneys and heart produce less stress-related hormones.

Dr Lane said: “We are excited to be participating in the BEAT-HF study which offers a potentially promising new treatment for patients with heart failure, who despite current best treatment remain severely functionally limited.”

Genomic cancer testing could allow early treatment

Professor Eric Lim, consultant thoracic surgeon at Royal Brompton Hospital, has successfully secured a collaboration with Guardant Health, a US-based biotechnology company that specialises in genomic cancer testing and is a world leader in the field of non-invasive diagnostics.

The aim is to define the frequency of blood-based cancer mutations after lung cancer surgery and determine any association between detectable tumour mutations and cancer recurrence. Genomic cancer testing using blood samples has the potential to offer early treatment to patients with trace evidence of recurrent cancer.

This study is expected to lead to a better understanding of the role of minimally invasive surgery for lung cancer.


Professor Toby Maher

Consultant respiratory physician

Specialises in interstitial lung disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and sarcoidosis.



Dr Rebecca Lane

Consultant cardiologist

Specialises in managing patients with coronary artery disease, valve disease, heart failure and arrhythmias. 



Professor Eric Lim

Consultant thoracic surgeon

Specialises in minimally invasive surgery for lung and chest cancer, airway and blood vessel reconstruction and complex surgery for advanced lung cancer.