A consultant based at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston is playing a leading role in a major research project that has just been awarded more than £3 million in funding.
Carl Philpott, a prominent ear, nose and throat surgeon, is hoping that the seven-year project will give doctors a blueprint for the future treatment of a condition often described as being like a “cold that never went away.”
The £3.2 million funding from the National Institute of Health Research is for a project looking at the management of adult chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), a condition where there is swelling of the nose and sinuses.
This results in symptoms such as a blocked or runny nose, loss of smell and discomfort due to sinus pressure and in fatigue and tiredness with poor quality of life.
Mr Philpott said: “Chronic rhinosinusitis can have a detrimental effect on a person’s quality of life. For example, losing your sense of smell and not being able to enjoy food as you once did can have a serious impact.
“It also affects productivity in the workplace as it is one of the leading causes of time off work.
“It even affects patients financially as it is estimated that they spend five times more than someone without the condition on over-the-counter medicines, such as paracetamol, to relieve their symptoms.”
Mr Philpott, together with Claire Hopkins from Guy’s Hospital in London, are the two lead investigators for the project, which involves the James Paget and fifteen other hospitals across the country including Guy’s, the Royal Surrey in Guildford and the Oxford Surgical Interventions Trials Unit.
After a year-long pre-trial study phase, the research will move into a trial involving 600 patients suffering from chronic rhinosinusitis. The details of the trial will be determined by the work in year one but will include treatments that include longer-term antibiotics (versus placebo), and sinus surgery.
This phase of the project will last five years before the final year, when the results of the trial will be analysed and new recommendations drawn up for the future treatment of the condition by GPs and ENT surgeons.
“It is an exciting project to be involved in,” said Mr Philpott. “At the moment, there is significant variance in how the condition is treated. Hopefully, our research project will iron out that variation.
“One area of particular interest will be the use of antibiotics. There is no clear evidence about how effective antibiotics are for this condition but, at a time when there are concerns about antibiotic resistance, it will form a very important part of the trial.”
The project will be overseen by the University College of London – and it is the first time that the NIHR has awarded a programme grant to an ENT project.
Other research partners involved include the UEA, where Mr Philpott is a Clinical Senior Lecturer and Professionalism Lead at Norwich Medical School.