COPD And Inflammation Team (CAIT)

In BC, more than 74,000 adults have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and 10,000 patients require hospitalization each year for related illnesses, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Lung inflammation is the defining symptom of COPD, and may also be responsible for its progression and complications, including lung cancer and vascular disease. Currently, there are few effective therapies available to treat COPD. This unit’s research will bring together basic scientists, clinicians and epidemiologists to focus on identifying and understanding the complex inflammatory cascades of COPD. The team’s ultimate goal is to find new strategies and therapies to improve health outcomes of patients with COPD.

Interdisciplinary Team Generating Research on Complex Patients to Develop Innovative Solutions

This award funds the creation of a transdisciplinary team studying health issues of complex patient groups with multiple illnesses, and varied ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. The goal is to examine the health status and trajectory of these patients by integrating research about the social determinants that affect their health, such as education, housing status, and income level.

Treatment readiness and motivation research: improving quality of care and health outcomes

Treatment refusal, dropout, and relapse are common in individuals with eating disorders, resulting in physical and emotional costs to the patient, societal costs to the community, and economic costs to the health care system. Dr. Josie Geller’s previous research has shown that a patient’s readiness to change is the best predictor of clinical outcomes in the eating disorders. However, there remains a need for validated assessment tools and guidelines to determine which patients are ready for what type of treatment; development and evaluation of interventions that enhance readiness for treatment; and dissemination of findings from this research to clinicians and to community support providers on the benefits of matching treatment to patient readiness. The primary objective of Dr. Geller’s research is to use a patient-focused approach that draws upon applications of psychological models of readiness and motivation for change to improve health service delivery, utilization, and quality of care. Her program aims to provide a set of guiding principles for efficient, cost-effective care that has broad applications to the health care system, including eating disorders, HIV, Hepatitis C, and other emerging priority areas.

Drug-related mitochondrial toxicity in HIV and HCV antiretroviral therapy: impact of mitochondrial DNA/nuclear DNA ratio changes on therapy outcome

Triple combination antiretroviral therapy has greatly reduced the rate at which people with HIV infections progress to AIDS. However, the medications used in the therapy can be quite toxic, leading to serious liver, kidney, muscle and nerve problems and reducing the length of time patients are able to tolerate the treatment. Dr. Hélène Côté and colleagues at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS have developed a blood test to measure toxicity from antiretroviral therapy and are now assessing its effectiveness in detecting and monitoring toxicity levels. She is also investigating whether the test could predict complications from drug therapy before serious symptoms appear. If so, it could be used to tailor use of antiretroviral therapy and improve treatment outcomes. As part of the research, Dr. Côté also is studying the effectiveness of the blood test in measuring toxicity of medications used for hepatitis C.

Secondary prevention – the gap between evidence and practice

Cardiac disease remains the leading cause of death in Canada. A significant portion of cardiac health care resources are expended on acute interventions such as clot-busting drugs, angioplasty and bypass surgery. However, there is a lack of research on the use of proven strategies – known as secondary prevention – to prevent patients from experiencing subsequent coronary events such as a heart attack. Dr. Karin Humphries is a leading investigator in the area of cardiac health outcomes and the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Humphries is studying how BC patients with heart disease are monitored and how many are using aspirin, beta-blockers and cholesterol-lowering drugs as part of their efforts to reduce their risk of further coronary events. Eventually, she hopes to design a clinical trial to assess new approaches to increase the use of secondary prevention strategies.