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sector_ico_Health_trans Human Health

Clinical Implementation and Outcomes Evaluation of Blood-Based Biomarkers for COPD Management

  • Project Leaders: Don Sin, Raymond Ng
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $7200000
  • Program/Competition: Large Scale Applied Research Programs
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome Canada
  • Fiscal Year: 2013
  • Status: Closed

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) damages the airways inside of our lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Patients suffer “lung attacks”, characterized by coughing, breathlessness and a dramatic increase in sputum. If caught early enough these lung attacks can be effectively treated with medication. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of lung attacks can resemble pneumonia, heart attacks or even the flu. Lung attacks reduce patient quality of life and cost the Canadian health care system nearly $4 billion dollars each year in direct and indirect costs.

Through this project aimed at improving diagnosis and prognosis for patients with COPD, Drs. Don Sin, Raymond Ng and team made significant progress toward developing biomarkers, which in the future, could be used to identify patients at high risk for lung attacks.

These biomarkers could also help differentiate between infectious causes of COPD lung attacks. In future, this may lead to earlier treatment, or better yet, prevention. Preventative drugs prescribed to patients at risk could result in fewer attacks, as well as reduced hospitalization and emergency visits. At the same time, patients at low risk of an attack could avoid unnecessary drugs and their potential side effects.

In addition to the work toward developing biomarkers, this research team also developed publicly available economic models to help predict the future economic burden of COPD in different scenarios such as using biomarkers or other interventions. This will help to inform future biomarker development and policy making, contributing to a more sustainable health care system.