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BUSM researchers identify novel approach to study COPD and treatment efficacy
Date:4/11/2013

(Boston) Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have pinpointed a genetic signature for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from airway cells harvested utilizing a minimally invasive procedure. The findings provide a novel way to study COPD and could lead to new treatments and ways to monitor patient's response to those treatments. The study is published online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that leads to the loss of lung function primarily caused by cigarette smoking. It causes coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and other symptoms that make it difficult to breathe. While there are treatments and lifestyle changes that can help people cope with COPD, there currently is no cure and there are no effective therapies to reduce the rate of lung function decline. According to the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which partially funded the study, COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, resulting in approximately 135,000 deaths each year.

"There have been limited molecular studies of COPD given the inaccessibility and invasiveness of obtaining lung tissue," said Katrina Steiling, MD, MSc, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM who served as the study's first author. The researchers hypothesized that while COPD primarily affects the tissue deep within the lung, the effects of COPD might be detectable in relatively accessible tissue throughout the respiratory tract. This echoes previous work they had done that found that cancer found deep in the lung could be detected by cancer-specific patterns of gene expression in the largest airways connected to the windpipe, far from the tumor.

To examine their hypothesis, the research team used airway cells obtained during a bronchoscopy, a procedure that involv
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Contact: Jenny Eriksen
jenny.eriksen@bmc.org
617-638-6841
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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