Newest developments of lung research presented at the ERS International Congress 2019

During the last ERS Congress in Madrid, doctors showed new treatment options for lung disease, and researchers presented and discussed the newest developments in science.

The annual European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress took place in Madrid from 28 September to 2 October 2019. In those five days, doctors showed new treatment options for lung disease, and researchers presented and discussed the newest developments in science.

Young researchers that attended this congress summarized its most important take-home messages. This was published in a recent article in the European Respiratory Journal Open Research.

A highlight of this congress was the presentation of the “human lung cell atlas”. This is a map of the lung that allows us to go through the different parts of the lung and see how cells work. Different cells work in different ways depending on their genes. The cell atlas will help us to understand how cells interact with each other and what happens in lung disease. A very new technology that analyzes the genes of a single cell helped to develop this map (before we could only measure mixtures of several hundreds of cells in a whole piece of lung).

Scientists reported important new findings about respiratory infections. There was a lot of new information about infections where the person is infected with a virus and bacteria at the same time. With this information, researchers can develop new treatments and vaccines, for example for pneumonia.

One session focused on the causes of lung diseases that happen very early in life and even before birth. Our lungs develop during pregnancy and a for few months after that. If babies are exposed to, for example, cigarette smoke in this critical time, they have a higher risk of COPD and asthma when growing up. We need to understand what causes this, to prevent these diseases in the future. One explanation could be a different microbiota, a community of bacteria that live in our lungs and influence our well-being. Scientists all over the world are working on treatments to correct this microbiota to prevent lung diseases.

Finally, scientists also showed that the metabolism of cells, the use of oxygen and nutrients from food to generate energy, plays a big role in the development of lung disease. The mitochondria, the power plants of the cell, seem to not work as they should in many lung diseases. There are many people currently working on strategies to repair these cells in the future.

Research on lung diseases is very important to understand them better and to be able to develop new treatments. Meetings like ERS congress bring together leading experts in the field to discuss their findings and to solve the remaining puzzles.

Read the full summary now at:

This summary was produced as part of a lay writing project that is delivered by the European Lung Foundation. We work closely with researchers and health professionals to teach them about how to write to make research accessible patients and the public. If you are interested in learning more about this, please contact us on