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Content archived on 2024-05-07

European network for the examination of clinical and biological implications of respiratory muscles failure in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


To enhance knowledge of the structural and functional basis of respiratory muscle (RM) dysfunction/failure and to develop new tools for the management of this condition.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the European Union, being mainly characterized by a progressive airflow limitation. Respiratory Muscles (RM) play a relevant role in the life of patients suffering from COPD since their dysfunction/failure influences the presence and severity of the exacerbations and constitutes a limiting factor for their exercise tolerance. For these reasons, although no specific studies have been carry out, it is believed that RM function also affects the quality of life of such patients. The RM function in COPD is mainly altered by changes in the configuration of the thorax due to pulmonary hyperinflation. This results in shortening of the diaphragm with the impairment in its force-length relationships and a decrease in its resistance to fatigue. In addition, there is a in balance between ventilatory requirements and nutritional supply to RM in COPD patients. All these points taken together, the dysfunction/failure of RM appears as an important cause of the high socio-sanitary and human costs derived from this chronic disease. However, to date there is a lack of adequate instruments for diagnosing RM dysfunction/failure in clinical conditions.

Furthermore,theunderlyingbiologicalmechanismsassociatedwiththis process also remain unclear. This is probably the reason that explains why the treatments directed to improve the RM function in COPD (e.g. pulmonary rehabilitation or non-invasive mechanical ventilation) have been employed empirically and with controversial results.

The main objective of the ERESMUS in COPD project is to enhance knowledge of the structural and functional basis of RM dysfunction/failure, developing at the same time new diagnostic tools for this condition.

This will allow us to better identify patients at risk, selecting them for more specific treatments. The project includes studies in patients with COPD, as well as animal, experimental and theoretical models. This multiple design will make it possible to establish the underlying structural findings associated with RM dysfunction/failure, evaluating the effects of different treatments such as pulmonary rehabilitation or surgical reduction of lung volume. Studies including COPD patients will also permit us to assess the usefulness of the new diagnostic methods. On the other hand, the impact of RM dysfunction/failure and some of its treatments on the quality of life of COPD patients will also be evaluated. Finally, new therapeutic strategies, pharmacological (e.g. mechano growth factor) as well as mechanical (design of a new ventilator controlled by the activity of RM of the patient) will be investigated to develop novel strategies of treatment for RM dysfunction/failure.

To accomplish all these objectives the ERESMUS in COPD project brings together scientists from four different European countries (Spain, United Kingdom, Sweden and Poland) and Canada. These partners work in different disciplines (from basic to clinical sciences) and belong to different institutions, including research centres, hospitals, universities and industrial companies. This multidisciplinary network has the additional objective of strengthening relationships between different partners for further collaborative research. This is the first project tackling the problem of RM dysfunction/failure in COPD from such a multidisciplinary point of view, adding efforts to improve the quality of life of the patients, to reduce socio sanitary costs derived from this condition and to develop new technologies for its diagnosis and treatment.03 03

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Ayuntamiento de Barcelona
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80,C/ Dr. Aiguader
08003 Barcelona

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Participants (4)