Current COPD Research Under Scrutiny

A recent statement jointly released by the American Thoracic Society and European Respiratory Society reviews the current state and trajectory of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) research.

A statement jointly released by the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and European Respiratory Society (ERS) reviews the current state and trajectory of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) research.

Currently the ATS and ERS define COPD as a preventable disease marked by airflow limitation and lung inflammation that is often sparked by noxious gas exposure. Typically caused by smoking, most COPD patients exhibit breathlessness or pulmonary exacerbations, according to an executive summary of the statement.

“COPD is a major contributor to morbidity, mortality, and resource use around the world,” said Kevin C. Wilson, MD, Senior Director of Documents and Medical Affairs at the ATS and co-chair of the committee that produced the report. “Our recommendations on what’s needed in COPD research, from leading experts in the field, should help in the fight to alleviate some of the burden of this debilitating disease.”

Including Wilson, a panel of COPD clinicians, researchers, and patient advocates called attention to knowledge gaps in COPD research following their assessment of available literature on diagnosis, identification, management, and treatment.

In a statement published in the April 1 issue of the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and in the April issue of the European Respiratory Society’s European Respiratory Journal, the panel put forth several recommendations on COPD research topics including:

  • Clinical research focusing on patient-centered outcomes
  • Examining the effects of CT scanning in COPD patients
  • Gauging the accuracy of COPD screening tools commonly used for diagnosis and determining treatment
  • Identifying a relationship between phenotypic traits and patient outcomes
  • Finding relationships between COPD and comorbidities
  • Considering the effects of smoking cessation on COPD disease outcomes and on ways to help patients quit smoking

“Strides have been made in the identification, pathogenesis, assessment, and treatment of COPD, yet many important questions remain unanswered,” the team concluded. “This ATS/ERS Research Statement highlights the types of research that leading clinicians and researchers believe will have the greatest impact on patient-centered outcomes.”