There are 2.6 million Canadians with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), representing 17% of adults between 35 and 80 years of age. COPD is a disease characterized by progressive loss of lung function that leads to shortness of breath, poor quality of life, reduced productivity, emergency visits, hospitalizations and deaths. The World Health Organization estimates that COPD will be the 3rd leading cause of death worldwide by 2030, accounting for more than 7 million deaths/year and 11,000 deaths/year in Canada. Most of the deaths and suffering occur during 'lung attacks', when patients' COPD flares-up, in response to a respiratory tract infection. Lung attacks cost the Canadian health care system nearly $3 billion each year in direct expenditures.
There are no tests that doctors can use to diagnose lung attacks and no tests that can guide doctors on how these lung attacks should be treated. In this project, we will develop lab tests to enable rapid and accurate diagnosis of lung attacks and to help doctors figure out who will have another lung attack in the near future, so pre-emptive therapies can be implemented to avoid future attacks. These tests will prevent hospitalizations and deaths from COPD and help patients to receive the right therapies at the most appropriate times.