Respiratory researchers at the University of Newcastle believe they have a better way of managing the debilitating breathing condition Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) but need more patients to enrol in a clinical trial.
The study known as Mi-COPD (Managing Inflammation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is investigating personalised management of the disease rather than using a uniform approach to treatment.
“We’re testing a number of therapies to see how effective they are for the different disease subtypes,” principal investigator Associate Professor Vanessa McDonald, from HMRI’s VIVA research program, explained. “Participants may be prescribed a combination of treatments according to an integrated algorithm we have developed, while some will receive placebo tablets and maintain their usual care regimen.”
Those in the intervention group receive up to three active tablets – these include the drug Prednisone, a statin that comes from a cardiovascular background, and an antibiotic favoured for its anti-inflammatory properties.
“At the same time, this study is helping to define the role of biomarkers in assessing and managing COPD,” Associate Professor McDonald said. “We’re examining the use of a simple blood test to predict the presence of eosinophilic airway inflammation, which occurs in about 30 per cent of COPD patients.”
COPD affects almost 30 per cent of Australians aged over 75 and represents a major cause of death and disability worldwide. Mi-COPD aims to reduce the number of flare-ups people experience and improve their quality of life.
Associate Professor McDonald added: “We have recruited over half of the required participants but we need more volunteers to be part of this important study. Eligibility requires people to have had a COPD flare-up in the previous 12 months and comprises monthly visits for six months then post-treatment follow-ups at 12 and 18 months.”
A number of participants have reported immediate health and wellbeing benefits, with Georgetown resident Margaret Ross saying she felt years younger after completing the trial. A former nurse, Mrs Ross was diagnosed with COPD 20 years ago and has managed her symptoms with antibiotics and asthma puffers.
“I’d honestly reached the stage where I didn’t care if I kicked the bucket because I was continually breathless and coughing,” Mrs Ross said. “But I’ve been well now for 13 months and just can’t believe the difference –I’ve even started going to the gym and it is absolutely fantastic.”
Patients should contact Mi-COPD coordinator Gabrielle LeBrocq on (02) 4042 0131 or email email@example.com
* Associate Professor Vanessa McDonald researches in conjunction with the HMRI VIVA program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the Community.