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

Pulled cattle guards going back in place despite B.C. Interior First Nations moose hunt protest

Forests minister Donaldson and TNG Chief Alphonse discuss situation, agree on path forward, ministry says

UBCM passes historic resolution brought forth by CCRD

If the resolution is successfully realized, it will mean groundbreaking change for local governments

TNG block roads, question gov’t on moose hunt

Chief Joe Alphonse confirmed Thursday they’ve deactivated the Raven Lake Road and the Mackin Creek Road just before the Island Lake turnoff

Bella Coola RCMP appeal for public’s help in wake of suspicious fires

Four suspicious fires in the span of four months prompted local RCMP to bring in fire specialist

Municipal spending outpaces population growth 4-fold in B.C.: report

Canadian Federation of Independent Business has released its annual operational spending report

VIDEO: Rare close encounter with whale pod spotted off B.C. waters

Pod of southern resident orca whales breach within arms length of whale watchers

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

Most Read