Clinical Research Office. A partnership between Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Sheffield

The SUMMER study is aiming to understand if a drug called mepolizumab, which is usually used to treat people with asthma, can help people who are living with COPD. We also want to understand what is happening in the lungs by taking detailed pictures using an MRI scanner.

People with both COPD and asthma get “exacerbations” or “flare-ups” of their symptoms from time to time. Mepolizumab is good at preventing exacerbations in people with asthma. Some with COPD have 'asthmatic' type inflammation. Research shows mepolizumab may reduce exacerbations of people with COPD and asthmatic inflammation but further research is needed to show us more clearly who is likely to benefit from the drug.

To gain this understanding we need to be able to measure inflammation within the body. We have developed a way to use an MRI scanner to do this using xenon gas to give us good pictures of the lungs. We can then measure how xenon flows within the air spaces of the lungs, and from there to the blood. This gives us a lot of detail about inflammation and damage in the lung.

We aim to find participants with COPD with 'asthmatic' type inflammation, and treat them for a year with mepolizumab. We will take scans before the treatment, after 12 weeks and after a year to see how the drug affects inflammation. We will also compare our measurements with the number of exacerbations people get, with measures of their quality of life, and with ordinary laboratory breathing tests. We are especially interested to know if the reduction in inflammation early on after 12 weeks is associated with fewer exacerbations and better quality of life over the year.


This study is running at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and opened to recruitment in May 2022. As of January 2024, we have now recruited about 70% of participants needed for the study. We had a small lull in recruitment over the autumn, but we are now having a final push at recruiting the last few participants to complete the study. We hope to complete recruitment by the end of March. To boost recruitment, Dr Lawson spoke about the study on Radio Sheffield before Christmas and we have reached out to more local GP practices to ask them to contact their patients who may be interested. We are now hoping to reach 30 participants enrolled with the aim of at least 26 reaching the second MRI visit. In October we hit the milestone of our first participant reaching the end of the study, and now nearly a quarter of our target number of participants have reached their final MRI visit.

Information for patients

What is this study about?

We want to find out whether an asthma drug called mepolizumab can also help people with COPD. We are using MRI scans to look at the lungs in details to see how and if it helps.

Who can join?

If you have COPD and have experienced 2 or more worsenings (or exacerbations) requiring treatment in the last year then you may be eligible to take part.

What does this study involve?

This study runs for 14 months. If you join the study you would come to the Northern General Hospital Clinical Research unit for 15 visits where you will receive injections of an asthma drug called mepolizumab. Three of these visits also include an MRI scan and breathing tests.

How do I find out more?

Please contact the study team at


Information for health-care professionals

If you are a health-care professional wishing to find out more about this study please see our study entry on (NCT05138250). You may contact the study team for more information at

Page last updated 24th January 2023