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Editorials |

Biomarkers in COPD: Are We There Yet?

Don D. Sin, MD, FCCP; S. F. Paul Man, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Correspondence to: Don D. Sin, MD, James Hogg iCAPTURE Center for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research, St. Paul’s Hospital, Room No. 368A, 1081 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6, Canada; e-mail: dsin@mrl.ubc.ca



Chest. 2008;133(6):1296-1298. doi:10.1378/chest.08-0455
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COPD is among the top 10 conditions that affect the world population.1 Its prevalence has risen by 41% since 1982, and its age-adjusted mortality rate increased by > 100% between 1970 and 2002. These trends are projected to continue into the foreseeable future.2 Dissimilar to other major causes of mortality, such as ischemic heart disease, stroke, and HIV/AIDs, there is a dearth of effective interventional strategies that can modify the natural course of COPD.3 In particular, to our knowledge, there are no known pharmacologic therapies that can reduce the progressive and relentless decline in lung function that characterizes COPD. A major impediment in drug discoveries has been the lack of lung-specific biomarkers that can be used as an intermediate end point for short-term (and less costly) clinical trials. An ideal biomarker is one that (1) has biological plausibility in terms of its role in the pathogenesis of the disease, (2) is associated with a clinically important outcome such as mortality, and (3) can be modified (by an effective intervention) to change the target outcome of interest.4 In COPD, we have no established biomarkers that fulfill all of these criteria.

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