Researchers from National Jewish Medical and Research Center and Brigham and Women's Hospital have been awarded a $37 million grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to lead a study of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) ever undertaken.
The multi-institutional study will seek to identify the genetic, epidemiological and radiological characteristics of COPD, with a long-term goal of better understanding the disease and finding more effective treatments.
"COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, and yet we know so little about the disease," said James Crapo, MD, professor of medicine at National Jewish and co-principal investigator of the study.
"This study will help us determine which smokers are most at risk of developing the disease, who is most likely to have progressive disease, and how to more effectively treat it," Crapo added.
"Our goal with this massive project is to discover genes responsible for this chronic lung disease and to develop a comprehensive data sharing plan so that this study will become a national resource for the scientific community," said Edwin Silverman, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at BWH and co- principal investigator of the study.
The 16 clinical study centers involved will enroll a total of 10,500 participants, 3,500 of whom will be African American, a population whose COPD rates are rapidly growing and whose risk factors have not been adequately studied.
The new study will enroll smokers with and without COPD. Study participants with COPD will undergo a single study visit that will include pulmonary function tests, questionnaires about respiratory and general health, a six-minute walk test, a physical examination and a chest CT scan. After study participation, phone and mail contacts will be conducted with study participants every six months.
"The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is excited to fund what will be the largest study ever of the genetics of COPD. Identifying genetic factors that contribute to this devastating disease will help us understand the biological mechanisms involved, and will ultimately lead to better treatments and improved outcomes for patients," said Elizabeth G. Nabel, MD, director of the NHLBI. The NHLBI is promoting better awareness of COPD through its public education campaign, Learn More Breathe Better.
A team from Johns Hopkins University, the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the University of Colorado will provide statistical analysis.