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

Kelowna families honour the dead by releasing butterflies

The Nicholson matriarchs release 33 butterflies

Vernon writers launch online workshop for teens, young adults

Storymakers’ Raise Your Voice workshop seeks to help women writers uncover and use voice

Vernon’s Tea Desire to close doors

July 28 last day of operation in Vernon location

Vernon talent hit Special Olympics Team BC roster

Four basketball players, one soccer player to represent Vernon on Team BC in Nova Scotia July 31

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Kelowna families honour the dead by releasing butterflies

The Nicholson matriarchs release 33 butterflies

Course veterans seize victory in Peach City Classic

The first place titles in this year’s triathlon belonged to returning competitors.

Vernon writers launch online workshop for teens, young adults

Storymakers’ Raise Your Voice workshop seeks to help women writers uncover and use voice

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

East Shuswap Road wildfire’s fire line being controlled

Firefighters saved an eagle’s nest and eaglets while controlling fire lines

Most Read