The leading cause of hospitalization and the third leading cause of death in Canada, namely chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is one of the least understood diseases. McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and McGill University investigators are launching an ambitious and innovative pan-Canadian study entitled CanCOLD (Canadian Cohort of Obstructive Lung Disease). Involving researchers at nine sites across the country and a cohort of over 2,000 patients, CanCOLD aims to better understand the causes of COPD, its risk factors and possible treatments.
“It is high time to demystify COPD in order to better explain the issues and help people who suffer from this disease,” says Dr. Jean Bourbeau, Director of the Respiratory, Epidemiology and Clinical Research Unit at the Montreal Chest Institute of the MUHC, and lead investigator of CanCOLD along with Dr. Wan Tan of The James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research, University of British Columbia. As much as 70 per cent of COPD patients are under-diagnosed due to a lack of knowledge of the disease among the general public and physicians.
COPD is a chronic, degenerative disease of the respiratory system that affects nearly 3 million Canadians and includes two major disorders commonly known as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which lead to severe respiratory failure. “Smoking is a major risk factor of COPD, and as a result there is a certain public indifference towards the disease because there is a sense that it is self-inflicted,” adds Dr. Bourbeau. “As researchers, part of our challenge is to change this perception; genetics, history of pulmonary infections during childhood, secondhand smoke and environmental factors are also major contributors.
Our goal is to develop more effective management tools to reduce the economic and social burden associated with this disease.” “CanCOLD represents an exceptional means to multiply the savoir faire of researchers to accelerate the understanding of chronic diseases and improve patient care,” explains Dr. Vassilios Papadopoulos, Director of the Research Institute of the MUHC and Associate Executive Director for Research at the MUHC. “Leading an initiative such as this one, which is based on a solid platform of research, information technology, modern infrastructure, and nationwide collaboration in biomedical sciences, is totally aligned with the strategic plan of the Research Institute of the MUHC.”
“That a public-private consortium involving the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and several large pharmaceutical companies is supporting this study and facilitating the transfer of knowledge, from results to actual patient treatments, underscores the importance of this research,” notes Dr. Bourbeau.
“It is urgent that we use the tools of modern medicine to change the course of this devastating disease, which still has far too much stigma attached to it. If this trend continues, it is feared that more than 6,000 women and 5,000 men nationwide will die from COPD complications in 2010.”
This research project is funded through the collaborative research program CIHR / Rx & D, in partnership with AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and the Respiratory Health Network of the FRSQ. Novartis has recently joined the consortium.
CanCOLD (Canadian Cohort of Obstructive Lung Disease) is a prospective multi-centre cohort study conducted across Canada, dedicated to increasing our understanding of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and related co-morbidities, to improve its management and to reduce its burden. This first population based long-term COPD cohort study in Canada is set to end in 2023.
CanCOLD aims to address challenging and important research questions in a more concerted and high-impact fashion by:
• Working together to promote the sharing of common objectives and expertise in COPD research. • Creating a new research platform for COPD in Canada to leverage future research projects (database, tissue bank, labs and exercise facilities).
• Improving surveillance of COPD in Canada (prevalence, diagnosis, occurrence of disease and progression, risks factors and co-morbidities).
• Assisting public-health and healthcare system decision makers in developing policies to improve the diagnosis and management of COPD.
• Optimizing the utilization of healthcare services at a national, provincial and regional level.
On the Web:
• CanCOLD: www.cancold.ca
• The Research Institute of the MUHC: www.muhc.ca/research