Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Research
Throughout the past few decades, much of the research surrounding chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has been focused on the causes for and progression of COPD. Although factors such as cigarette smoking, inflammation in the lungs, and heredity (e.g., alpha1-antitrypsin [AAT] deficiency-related emphysema) contribute to the development of COPD, the importance of each of these factors is not fully understood at this time.
Recent COPD studies have yielded several important discoveries. Researchers continue to learn more about the processes involved in COPD development and about the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These studies may lead to additional treatment options and more effective medications, and also may provide valuable information about COPD prevention.
Some COPD research is being conducted to determine if there is a relationship between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other conditions, such as asthma, viral and bacterial lung infections, and excessive mucus production in the lungs. Additional studies are focused on helping researchers learn more about the role of biochemical markers, lung inflammation, heredity (genetics), and other factors in the disease process and/or the progression of COPD.
Several COPD clinical trials currently are being performed. Some of these trials are focused on the following:
- Developing more effective methods to monitor COPD progression
- Evaluating the effects of smoking cessation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Managing sleep issues in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Preventing low blood oxygen levels (hypoxemia) in COPD patients
- Studying the effects of long-term oxygen therapy, non-invasive ventilation, and lung-volume reduction surgery in patients with COPD
- Treating and preventing COPD exacerbations
Drug development is another important area of COPD research. Medications that are in various stages of development and are currently being evaluated in studies and clinical trials for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease include long-acting M3 selective antagonists, leukotriene B4 inhibitors, 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors, phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitors, and several others.