Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a global health problem of pandemic proportion, and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. New evidence that exposure to air pollutants increases the risk of developing the disease is shifting the perception of COPD as solely a smoker's disease towards being a general health concern in urban areas. In addition, epidemiological studies indicate significant gender differences in susceptibility, with post-menopausal women being at greatest risk.
COPD is primarily an inflammatory disease of the peripheral airways. In contrast to other chronic airway inflammatory diseases, e.g. asthma, treatment with inflammatory cascade inhibitors are largely ineffective in COPD. No efficacious treatments currently exist to prevent the inflammatory progression of COPD, which invariably leads to impaired lung function and premature death. The mechanisms underlying the disease progression are not well understood, yet very few resources have been allocated to the study of COPD.
The main objective of the proposed study is to identify protein mediators critical in the pathological mechanisms involved in the development of COPD. In accordance with the 1st thematic priority of FP6, proteomics and bioinformatics technology will be utilized to combat major disease: Through state-of-the-art proteomics and metabolomics methodology, alterations due to disease progression and gender will be quantified. Furthermore, use of bioinformatics applications will aid in a global understanding of the cellular mechanisms underlying COPD.
The results from this project are expected to have major effects upon the field of inflammation-associated diseases and will potentially develop new diagnostic techniques for early stage lung disease, enabling clinicians to apply intervention at earlier stages, thereby greatly reducing the costs to society and saving lives. A secondary accomplishment may be identification of novel pharmaceutical targets for COPD.
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