New study backs up observations in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients showing reduced effectiveness of symptom-reliever medication (B2-adrenoceptor agonists) in flare-ups linked to cigarette smoking and infection with viruses such as influenza.
Research suggests a need for new drugs to treat COPD patients in these categories and a model that could be used to test new medications.
According to the study, which is published in the Portland Press journal Clinical Science, the effectiveness of the commonly used COPD symptom-reliever medication salbutamol is reduced on exposure to cigarette smoke and influenza.
Commenting on the research, lead author Dr Chantal Donovan, from Monash University in Victoria, Australia, said: “By understanding the mechanisms responsible for reduced sensitivity to current bronchodilators, we can then design alternative, more efficacious agents to help treat people with COPD, especially during a viral exacerbation”.
COPD is the collective name for lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive airways disease. Smoking is currently the main cause of COPD as it alters immunity and can increase a patient’s susceptibility to infection, which can worsen symptoms and cause flare-ups.
The chances of developing COPD increases the longer an individual has been smoking. Patients suffering from COPD have difficulties breathing, mainly due to the airflow becoming obstructed, persistent production of phlegm and frequent chest infections.
One of the most common reliever drugs used to treat flare-ups of the common lung disease known as COPD is salbutamol, a β2-adrenoceptor agonist. This drug, which is also used to treat asthma, works by dilating a patient’s airways making it easier for them to breathe. The effectiveness of drugs such as salbutamol in cigarette smoke-induced lung diseases such as COPD is limited. To date, the mechanisms involved in loss of responsiveness to therapy remain poorly understood.
Senior study author Ross Vlahos, Associate Professor at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia said, “There is a clear need for new therapies that can overcome the limitations of current drugs used to treat COPD and associated flare-ups. When combined with knowledge gained through clinical research, animal models utilizing cigarette smoke exposure are a valuable tool in the quest to identify new therapies for this life-changing condition.”
The researchers hope that their technique will help identify new targets that can be exploited therapeutically to help patients with COPD who do not respond to current therapy.
(Source: Monash University, Clinical Science)