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

SilverStar Emergency Services Day raises funds for hospital

Over $20,000 was raised for the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation

Sparks fly off Steinway Grand during Vernon Valentine’s show

CONCERT REVIEW: NOCCA piano duo impresses

Fundraiser started for mother who had stroke while visiting Central Okanagan family

Tina Parry was visiting her daughter Rita Bruce Nanakeain and grandsons when she had a stroke

Vernon Christian School “Unplugs”

The event takes place Thursday, Feb. 28.

Okanagan College achieves second LEED Platinum award

“You don’t have to look hard to find advances in sustainability across all the trades”

Vernon art gallery turns out the lights and throws a party

DJ, drinks and food at Art After Dark Feb. 23

B.C. VIEWS: Power politics wins over rational energy policy

B.C Hydro continues to face interference on rates

PR firm suspends contract with former B.C. premier amid groping accusation

Edelman says in a statement that Campbell has served as a special adviser to the firm since last July

James says B.C. budget puts priorities on NDP’s poverty, environment plans

She said she expected the government’s poverty reduction and climate change strategies to be priorities in the budget

PHOTOS: Day 1 of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Games kicked off in Red Deer this week

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Most Read