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Early COPD


Principal Investigator: 

Professor Lorcan McGarvey


Name of the Study:

Early COPD: The BLF Early COPD Development Partnership Grant


Why is this Study important?: 

COPD affects around 8% of the UK adult population accounting for considerable morbidity and healthcare cost including hospital admission. It is usually a progressive heterogeneous condition originating with airway inflammation initiated mainly by smoking from early adulthood. Despite smoking cessation, COPD may progress and currently there is no pharmacological therapy that can reliably slow disease progression in COPD.

There remains a large unmet need for better treatments for patients that are dependent on better understanding of disease pathophysiology.

Understanding of the mechanisms of early COPD is especially important now as the costs of managing COPD are increasing, and once severe COPD develops hospital admissions are particularly costly. There is also considerable variation in COPD care in the UK and this is partly due to the phenotypic complexity of established disease. Thus, in order to affect disease progression and eventually severity, specific disease-modifying-intervention earlier in the course of COPD is required.


What is the Research question?: 


To study the very early stages of the development of COPD by recruiting a novel cohort of smokers, and follow their trajectories of lung function decline to identify prospectively those at risk of excess decline. 


A multi-centre, UK based longitudinal study of young adult smokers with or without airflow limitation and/or respiratory symptoms.


What the Study involves:

The main objective of the Partnership is to study the very early stages of the development of COPD. We will do this by recruiting a novel cohort of young adult smokers, in whom we will follow the trajectories of lung function decline to identify prospectively those at risk of excess decline. 


PPI Involvement: 

Not applicable


Who can take part in the Study?:

A novel cohort of 1000 smokers aged 30 to 45 with at least 10 pack years will be recruited using specific algorithms with either normal lung function or mild lung function abnormalities from eight UK centres. Subjects will be followed for three years to assess who are the faster lung function decliners and risk factors associated with it.


Contact Information:

Professor Lorcan McGarvey

Clinical Professor

Wellcome Trust Wolfson Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility

School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences

97 Lisburn Road




People locally who would like to be involved with this significant study can do so by contacting:


Maura Anderson


Telephone:     028 950 43814


NI Clinical Research Facility,
U Floor, Belfast City Hospital,
Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7AB

Tel:+44 (0)28 9504 0342

Connect to the NICRF