A NEW trial at the BRI could relieve the symptoms of lung disease for thousands of people.
More than 10,000 people in Bristol live their lives hampered by wheezing and breathlessness because of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
But a new trial being run in Bristol could change all that.
Clinicians at Bristol Royal Infirmary respiratory department are trying to come up with new ways to manage the disease and help people breath.
And the BRI is one of five centres in Europe that have been selected to take part in a new initiative for patients.
The LIBERATE trial, which started in October, is the largest and the longest study of its kind in the world.
It will investigate whether a procedure to insert endobronchial valves into parts of the lung damaged by COPD could reduce symptoms and improve lung function for patients.
The valves work by blocking air flow to an affected area of the lung, allowing healthy regions to expand and function more efficiently.
Bristol has been selected to take part in the trial by the US Food and Drug Administration, which is hoping to make the procedure more widespread in the US.
The trial will be open to patients across the South West who fulfil the selection criteria.
People taking part will be randomly chosen to either receive a valve at the start of the trial or to act as a control in the trial and receive a valve later.
Doctors will be able to compare the data of both patient groups to see whether the valves improve lung function and quality of life, and for how long.
More than 40 patients have been successfully treated with endobronchial valves at the BRI since 2013. On average, three to five valves are implanted during a procedure and they will stay there for the rest of the patient's life.
Dr Nabil Jarad, a consultant physician who is leading the trial, said: "The procedure is minimally invasive and done through a bronchoscope. Therefore the patient does not need to have incisions. Without such a strong multidisciplinary team at the Trust, this work would not have been possible.
"The use of the valves is part of a wider COPD and breathlessness management strategy run within the department.
"We have a highly capable team that will run the trial and we are very excited to be part of this research."
Patients who take part will need to take their inhalers, stop smoking and undergo a pulmonary rehabilitation program.
CASE STUDY: Pat Hayes
Pat Hayes, 63, was first admitted to the BRI ten years ago with suspected asthma attacks.
Having smoked in her younger years and worked in an industry with asbestos, Pat was concerned for her health and had become increasing short of breath, struggling to even hold a conversation.
After close monitoring of her symptoms, Pat was diagnosed with emphysema.
It meant she was very short of breath and had trouble enjoying life with her eight grandchildren.
She said: "I couldn't climb the stairs anymore and my friends joked that they could hear me wheezing before they saw me."
Under the guidance of Dr Jarad and Mr Batchelor, Pat had two valves fitted in her lungs at the BRI in 2013, followed by a short stay in hospital to recover and regular check-ups.
She said: "Since the valves were fitted, I feel like a new woman. I can honestly say I don't think I'd be here today without the procedure.
"Although I will continue to live with emphysema, I can now hold a conversation, enjoy spending time with my grandchildren and I feel my health has improved dramatically.
"I advise anyone who has similar health problems or is short of breath to get checked out by their GP. This procedure far exceeded my expectations and has greatly improved my life."