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Mucous profiling of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease patient-derived small-airway models

Funding from North Staffordshire Medical Institute £59,500

Lead Applicant: Dr Tina P. Dale
Host Institution: Guy Hilton Research Centre, Keele University

hronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading global cause of death with a correspondingly high cost to society. COPD patients have a range of symptoms depending on whether they mainly present with emphysema, where lung tissue is damaged, chronic bronchitis, with excess mucous production and chronic cough, or, a combination of both. COPD leads to a loss of function with low oxygen uptake in the lungs (hypoxia) and cardiovascular complications. Patients with excess mucous production and those who develop hypoxia associated complications have more frequent exacerbations (periods where symptoms become much worse, often due to infection), requiring hospitalisation and have higher morbidity and mortality. Despite this being a significant problem, there has been limited investigation of the mucous produced or of the link between hypoxia and mucous production in COPD patients.
Over the course of 1 year this project aims to produce mucous “profiles” by generating laboratory airway models from patient lung cells. This will help to better target treatments, including drugs like mucolytics that help to breakdown mucous in the lungs. Mucous quantity and composition will be determined and compared between patients with emphysema, bronchitis or neither disease. The airway models from all patients will be exposed to both normal and reduced oxygen environments.

This project will contribute to knowledge of the underlying causes of disease progression and to the identification of patients who may be more likely to deteriorate more rapidly, requiring a greater degree of therapeutic intervention, and who might benefit from newer mucolytic therapies.