Researching COPD to change lives

Aran is a researcher in respiratory medicine. This World COPD Day he shares his research in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a condition which affects 1.2 million people in the UK. Even though there’s so many people that live with this condition, there’s still very few effective treatments for managing it. As a researcher, I want to change this. 

Our team at Imperial College London have been researching the mucus (or phlegm) in people with COPD. It’s very normal for people to have mucus in their lungs when they have a virus or common cold. But for people with COPD, too much mucus can cause a flare-up and lead to breathlessness. Our research looked at mucins, small components that make up mucus, to see how they affected people with COPD. 

This could help prevent people from having flare-ups. It could change lives.

The early results have been exciting! Now we understand more about how mucus affects people with COPD. We found that there’s a certain type of mucin which leads to people having a flare-up. These results also suggest that we could use certain drugs to target these mucins. This could help prevent people from having flare-ups. It could change lives.

This breakthrough was all thanks to a research grant from the British Lung Foundation. As a relatively new researcher, I’m often competing for funding against researchers with years of experience. Funding is hard to get. The BLF have grants that really support early researchers, so it gives people like me the opportunity to get a ‘foot in the door’. This help  allowed me to put my ideas into reality. 

Now we hope to get more funding so we can carry out more research. We want to look at a drug that is known to block the production of a specific mucin and see if it helps reduce flare ups. If we get funding and if our results are positive, we’d be able to make an even bigger difference for those people living with COPD. We would change lives.


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COPD researcher

Aran

Aran is a researcher in respiratory medicine at Imperial College London

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10 November 2017