Dr. Tillie-Louise Hackett is an associate professor in the University of British Columbia’s faculty of medicine and principal investigator at St. Paul’s Hospital Centre for Heart Lung Innovation. Credit: Providence Health Care

UBC ‘breakthrough discovery’ will change treatment for COPD patients

By 2020, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is expected to be the third leading cause of death worldwide.

A new study by a UBC associate professor is being called a “breakthrough discovery” that will impact the lives of those with COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Dr. Tillie-Louise Hackett, associate professor in the University of British Columbia’s faculty of medicine, found that permanent lung damage caused by COPD starts much earlier than previously thought, even before patients are showing symptoms.

Her findings promise to dramatically change how patients are treated for COPD, the leading cause of hospital admissions in B.C. and Canada.

Hackett, who is also a principal investigator at St. Paul’s Hospital Centre for Heart Lung Innovation (HLI), and her research team found that even patients diagnosed with mild COPD have already lost a significant portion of their small airways—more than 40 per cent—on average.

COPD is a chronic, progressive condition that slowly damages the tissues of the lungs.

Currently, patients with mild disease, as determined by a lung function test, are given minimal or no treatment.

“These patients often have little to no symptoms, so it was believed their lungs were relatively undamaged,” said Hackett. “Now that we know the severity of the damage, we need to look at earlier intervention to ensure the best outcomes for COPD patients.”

The new findings also suggest previous large clinical trials testing new COPD treatments may have failed because patients already had substantial lung damage.

“If the same drugs were tested on patients with more mild forms of the disease, and less tissue damage, the results could be very different,” added Hackett.

Related: UBC Okanagan research a benefit to spinal cord exercise

Related: Sex robots could help your marriage: UBC prof

Lung samples from 34 patients were analyzed using an ultra-high resolution microCT scanner, one of only three scanners of this kind in the country.

The special scanner, funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and St. Paul’s Foundation, was instrumental to Hackett’s research. Though the HLI Lung Tissue Registry Biobank at St. Paul’s has been collecting specimens for more than 30 years, the recent addition of the microCT scanner made it possible to image samples that are embedded in paraffin in extreme detail.

It is estimated approximately one in 10 people over the age of 40 may suffer from COPD.

Martin Mannette has been living with the disease for eight years. He is managing well with a careful combination of medication, but the 68 year old is excited about how this research could impact future patients.

“I worry about COPD taking over as the number one killer,” said Mannette. “So anything we can do for the next generation so they can avoid COPD is so important.”

Dr. Don Sin, the Canada Research Chair in COPD and a St. Paul’s respirologist, said the findings have significant implications. By 2020, COPD is expected to be the third leading cause of death worldwide.

“This breakthrough finding will allow us to develop new drugs to treat patients with COPD at the earliest stages of their disease when the disease is reversible,” said Sin. “This will prevent disease progression in thousands of patients and help them stay out of the hospital and remain healthy in their own homes.”

Read the full study here.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lack of consultation on Chemainus Road corridor project irks business owners, residents

Surprise expressed over change to anticipated North Cowichan plans

VIDEO: Outstanding young performers come forward year after year

Valley’s emerging talent never ceases to amaze local audiences

Experience automotive classics and more at the Vancouver Island Concours d’Elegance

Motorcar Weekend features Show and Shine, high-end Concours division, all for a great cause

Settling a Debate About Impeding Traffic

We think it’s the slow drivers that cause problems but it’s seldom the case

SPCA looking for the best of the best wildlife photos

Wildlife-In-Focus photography contest

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read