SOUTHAMPTON has been named the world centre of excellence when it comes to groundbreaking discoveries and treatments that have transformed the lives of millions suffering with asthma and allergies.

The asthma, allergy and immunology service in the city received the prestigious accolade in recognition for its achievement in clinical innovation and cutting-edge research.

It is the highest endorsement to be bestowed on city experts who will now be at the forefront of training, research and education across the globe over the next three years, trying to find better treatments for sufferers.

The service, which is run jointly by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Southampton, is currently the only one in the world to hold this status from the World Allergy Organisation.

The city’s researchers have already overseen a number of groundbreaking international projects in recent years, including the development of new diagnostic technology which revealed that attacks of asthma were triggered mostly by the common cold, as well as discovering the first novel asthma gene.

Now they have various projects underway which involve studying effects of both genetic and environmental factors and how changes in genes’ make-up can play a role in altering the risk of allergic disease to see how the process can be reversed.

Staff are also currently leading cutting-edge investigations into better ways of treating severe forms of asthma and the use of vaccines during infancy to prevent the development of asthma and allergic conditions in children.

Professor Hasan Arshad, a consultant at Southampton General and chair of allergy and clinical immunology at the Uni-versity of Southampton, said: “To be named the world centre of excellence is a tremendous achievement and testament to the magnificent progress in patient care and research by some truly exceptional people.

“These people have kept Southampton at the forefront of allergy and asthma research for more than 30 years and we are extremely privileged to have such an array of expertise and talent within one team in our university and hospital.

“We now have a fantastic opportunity to influence international progress in our field over the course of our term.”