If you want to know more about the causes, the pathology and symptoms of COPD, head over to part 1 of our COPD blog post.
How is COPD Diagnosed?
COPD is typically diagnosed by examining the medical history of the patient, performing a physical exam, and completing a series of tests. The personal and medical history of a patient is recorded to determine any previous exposure to irritants or if a history of smoking exists. The physical exam will include listening to the lungs and heart and examining for swelling around feet and ankles. Lastly, a spirometry, or breathing test, is required to make a diagnosis of COPD. The test is non-invasive, measuring the amount of air that a patient can blow out of their lungs (volume) and how fast (flow). Spirometry detects COPD and the severity of the disease. A chest x-ray or CT scan might also be required to confirm the diagnosis of COPD. All patients who have been diagnosed with COPD should also undergo a blood test to be screened for the AAT genetic deficiency.
What are the treatment options of COPD?
COPD is a disease that relies on a combination of drugs and lifestyle changes to manage symptoms. For those patients who are still smoking, they can be enrolled in a smoking cessation program to help aid in quitting. There are also pulmonary rehabilitation programs to educate and demonstrate methods to improve breathing. Physical activity training is crucial to keep patients active while they are coping with the disease. Inhaled medicines such as bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids help to open the airways, aid in shortness of breath, and reduce the flare-ups that occur. Patients with COPD should remain up to date regarding vaccines, especially the flu vaccine since it will directly prevent infections in the lungs. In rare cases, patients have the potential to be treated with a surgical procedure such as a lung transplantation or a lung volume reduction surgery. Some important lifestyle changes that are key to managing symptoms include avoiding lung irritants and taking medications as advised. Lifespans and quality of life can be greatly affected by COPD if the disease is not treated as early as possible.
The current treatment options for COPD are for managing symptoms of the disease. Since there is no cure for the disease, lung damage is irreversible as it progresses. When breathing, the lungs rely on natural elasticity in the bronchial tubes and air sacs to force air out of the body. Patients with COPD experience a loss of elasticity, causing air to become trapped in the lungs. DESTiNED, the technology platform of Elastrin, would provide the necessary help of mitigating symptoms related to COPD and emphysema. The platform uses a targeted therapy to deliver active agents, such as PGG, directly to the lungs of the patients with the goal of restoring elasticity in the air sacs. PGG have been shown to inhibit elastin degradation by proteases, stabilize elastin in cardiovascular tissues, and serve as inhibitors of oxidative stress, elastases (MMPs), and ECM. If DESTiNED is used in the early diagnosis of COPD, our therapy has a huge potential to prevent the deterioration of elasticity within the lungs, allowing for a higher quality of life for the patient.