Are you having trouble managing your chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms? Have you tried multiple treatments? If so, your doctor or pulmonologist may suggest you join a clinical trial. These large studies help doctors and researchers learn more about new treatments.
For the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a new drug, test, or medical procedure for a particular condition, it must first go through clinical trials for that disease. You may choose to join a clinical trial so you can try a new treatment, or you may be interested in helping further scientific research. Clinical trials give you a unique opportunity to take control of your health and affect your treatment decisions and quality of life.
Currently, there are a number of COPD clinical trials studying new drugs, diagnostic tests, and lifestyle changes that could improve the lives of those living with this disease. Keep reading to learn more about new topics and trends being studied in COPD and to see whether you may qualify for a study.
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Biologics for COPD
COPD is a lung disease typically caused by smoking tobacco. The chemicals and smoke from tobacco create inflammation and damage the lungs, making it harder to breathe.1 Doctors prescribe corticosteroids and bronchodilators to help relieve inflammation and open the airways.2 These medications work well to treat mild-to-moderate COPD, but severe cases with symptom flares or exacerbations can be hard to control.
Now, doctors and researchers are looking into a newer class of treatments for COPD known as biologics or monoclonal antibodies.3 These are laboratory-engineered proteins designed to reduce inflammation. They target a specific part of the immune system to block inflammatory signals sent between immune cells.
Biologic drugs like dupilumab (Dupixent®) are already approved for treating asthma.4 Now, they’re being studied with other biologics to treat inflammation and lower the number of exacerbations in people with COPD. Some of these biologics have been approved for treating other inflammatory diseases. However, for these treatments to be expressly marketed for use in people with COPD, the FDA requires new clinical studies to prove they’re safe and effective in people with COPD.
New and previously approved biologics that are currently being studied for COPD include:5-8
- Benralizumab (Fasenra®)
Other Trends in Clinical Trials for COPD
Clinical trials aren’t just for studying new drugs. They’re used to learn how lifestyle changes can improve the lives of people living with a disease. These studies also help doctors and researchers make sure new diagnostic tools are as accurate as possible.
COPD clinical trials focus on other areas of research outside of new medications. Examples of trends currently being studied in clinical trials include:
- Comparing different types of imaging tests to correctly diagnose COPD
- Supplements and diet changes to help treat inflammation and improve COPD symptoms
- Low-impact exercise programs to help prevent COPD exacerbations
Clinical trials are also used to gather information on people living with a disease. These are known as observational studies. The researchers don’t give participants a new treatment. Instead, they collect samples to learn more about how a disease affects the human body. Observational clinical trials for COPD are currently studying:
- New medical devices to monitor COPD symptoms and medication use at home
- How your genes play a role in your risk of COPD
- How COPD affects blood flow to your brain and changes how you think
Joining a COPD Clinical Trial
Find Clinical Trials Near Me
Interested in clinical trials? Simply search by postal code and type of condition to see what’s going on in your area.
Choosing to join a clinical trial is a major decision. You may see some benefits from participating, but there are also some risks. Be sure to take your time deciding and weigh these factors with your doctor, family, and friends. The most important thing is to make a decision in the best interest of your health and your overall goals.
Once you’ve decided that you’d like to participate in a study, the next step is to find one you’re eligible to join. Investigators must post their clinical trials and requirements for joining. In order to participate, you must meet these requirements or inclusion criteria. Examples might be, for instance, having had COPD for at least one year, being a current or former smoker, or being at least 40 years old.
Exclusion criteria are circumstances that prevent you from joining a clinical trial. They’re set in place to keep you safe and ensure the data collected during the study are as accurate as possible. Examples of exclusion criteria in COPD studies might be having asthma or another major disease, being pregnant, or having cancer.