Two University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers have received CAN$7.2 million (US$6.8 million) to develop a test that will identify patients at risk for lung attacks brought on by chronic obstructive pulmo- nary disease (COPD). A progressive disease, COPD is characterized by loss of lung function that can lead to breathlessness, poor quality of life, loss of productivity, and increased mortality. Reportedly the fourth leading cause of death in Canada and a leading cause of hospital admissions, COPD can be exacerbated by severe lung attacks that apparently provide no advance warning and whose symptoms can resemble pneumonia, heart attacks or the flu.

Noting that doctors now “blindly treat all patients the same way regard- less of how active their disease is because we have no test that can tell us about the disease’s intensity or activity,” scientists leading the project say the test will help medical professionals provide better treatment and ultimately reduce hospitalizations and emergency visits. The four-year project, which is funded by Genome BC, Genome Canada, PROOF Centre of Excellence, St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, and Genome Quebec, will use genomic technologies to identify biomarkers from 1,000 COPD patient samples. See UBC News Release, December 5, 2013.