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MUHC leads pan-Canadian initiative on respiratory disease

This press release is available in French.

"It is high time to demystify COPD in order to better explain the issues and help people who suffer from this disease," says Dr. Jean Bourbeau, Director of the Respiratory, Epidemiology and Clinical Research Unit at the Montreal Chest Institute of the MUHC, and lead investigator of CanCOLD along with Dr. Wan Tan of The James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research, University of British Columbia. As much as 70 per cent of COPD patients are under-diagnosed due to a lack of knowledge of the disease among the general public and physicians.

COPD is a chronic, degenerative disease of the respiratory system that affects nearly 3 million Canadians and includes two major disorders commonly known as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which lead to severe respiratory failure. "Smoking is a major risk factor of COPD, and as a result there is a certain public indifference towards the disease because there is a sense that it is self-inflicted," adds Dr. Bourbeau. "As researchers, part of our challenge is to change this perception; genetics, history of pulmonary infections during childhood, secondhand smoke and environmental factors are also major contributors. Our goal is to develop more effective management tools to reduce the economic and social burden associated with this disease."

"CanCOLD represents an exceptional means to multiply the savoir faire of researchers to accelerate the understanding of chronic diseases and improve patient care," explains Dr. Vassilios Papadopoulos, Director of the Research Institute of the MUHC and Associate Executive Director for Research at the MUHC. "Leading an initiative such as this one, which is based on a solid platform of research, information technology, modern infrastructure, and nationwide collaboration in biomedical sciences, is totally aligned with the strategic plan of the Research Institute of the MUHC."

"That a public-private consortium involving the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and several large pharmaceutical companies is supporting this study and facilitating the transfer of knowledge, from results to actual patient treatments, underscores the importance of this research," notes Dr. Bourbeau. "It is urgent that we use the tools of modern medicine to change the course of this devastating disease, which still has far too much stigma attached to it. If this trend continues, it is feared that more than 6,000 women and 5,000 men nationwide will die from COPD complications in 2010."


Contact: Julie Robert
McGill University Health Centre

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