COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a major cause of ill health globally. In the UK alone, 1.2 million people are diagnosed with COPD, though it’s thought that millions more live with the condition undiagnosed. These ‘missing millions’ range between 1.8 – 2 million in the UK.
There is no cure for this progressive and debilitating condition. Smoking is the major preventable cause of COPD and stopping smoking remains a major part of COPD care. However, we have to develop effective treatments for those already damaged by tobacco and also for patients with COPD where tobacco is not the main factor leading to their problems.
Research means we have a range of treatments that help COPD patients to manage their disease. It’s only by doing more research that we will advance those treatments further. In 2016/17, 3,769 participants were recruited into 63 COPD research studies supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network.
World COPD Day
World COPD Day provides us with an opportunity to highlight the important role that UK research plays in combating this worldwide disease and how new novel approaches and devices are now a major feature of COPD research.
The revolutionary “real-world” Salford Lung Study is held aloft as the first of its kind globally. By the same token, a handful of exciting studies using new innovative medical technologies are now being rolled out for NHS patients to access.
New report on implantable and wearable medical devices
A new report produced by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in collaboration with the Hamlyn Centre, Imperial College London, highlights new technologies to improve patient lives, from diagnosis, treatment, to rehabilitation.
The report, Implantable and Wearable Medical Devices for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, highlights the potential for portable devices, smart textiles (where vests or t-shirt have circuits and sensors weaved into the fabric) and implantable endobronchial valves and coils (a small device implanted in the airway) to improve the quality of life for patients with COPD.
Dedicated wearable devices for monitoring COPD could see patients treated earlier at home, reducing the decline in their lung function, and cutting the cost of hospital stays.
Respiratory disorders research isn’t just about COPD; it covers all disorders including asthma, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, lung disease and infections, lung cancer, pleural disease and breathing disorders.