Dr. Benjamin M Smith was awarded a 1 year catalyst grant from the Canadian Lung Association Breathing as One – Boehringer Ingelheim Canada COPD Grant competition.
Grant title: Airway trees in the Anthropocene: A new paradigm for personalizing COPD prevention, prognosis, and pharmacotherapy.
About the project:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of death, disability, and health care cost in Canada. Cigarette smoking has long been considered the main cause of COPD, but despite an over 50% decline in smoking rates over 6 decades, the corresponding improvements in COPD outcomes have been modest. Furthermore, inhaled medicatiions for COPD provide only modest improvements in clinical outcomes and not all patients experience benefit. Clearly, we need to do better. The airway tree is the gateway for inhaled cigarette smoke and other harmful air pollutants, as well as inhaled COPD medications. Using state-of-the-art lung imaging, our team has shown that airway tree structure varies a lot in the general population, and this variation is a major COPD risk factor. A completely new hypothesis stemming from this work is that airway tree structure variation, common in the general population, determines someone’s susceptibility to harmful inhaled particles (e.g., cigarette smoke, air pollution) and the effectiveness of inhaled COPD medications. The proposed research will determine whether common variations in airway tree structure are associated with: 1. differences in how many inhaled particles deposit in the lung 2. differences in cigarette smoking-associated risk of COPD hospitalization or death 3. differences in response to inhaled COPD medication (i.e., a bronchodilator)