Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a difficult disease to treat with no known cure. However, with recent developments in the medical field, more tools at their disposal, and more knowledge about cellular functions, researchers are exploring new treatment options.
8 new treatments for COPD
Bronchial rheoplasty is a new bronchoscopic method for the management of chronic bronchitis. The clinician inserts a specialized camera called a bronchoscope into the lungs, then delivers short bursts of electrical energy to the inner walls of the small and larger airways called the bronchi. The electrical bursts cause the excessive mucus-producing cells to break open and die, which helps regenerate healthy cells in the lungs.
Targeted lung denervation (TLD)
TLD is a bronchoscopic intervention designed to disrupt pulmonary nerve reflexes, which may have the potential to reduce COPD exacerbation (a symptom flare-up commonly referred to as a lung attack). The development of interventional therapies such as TLD may stabilize COPD patients and help reduce their risk of exacerbation.
Stem cell therapy
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells with the ability to become specialized cells. Theoretically, these cells can replace diseased cells and help repair and regenerate organs. There have been promising results with the use of stem cells in animal models of lung diseases. Although the U.S. FDA has approved human clinical trials for stem cell use in COPD, there is no information yet about their long-term safety or efficacy.
This device helps clear excess mucus in the lung and is the only product that uses sound vibration to stimulate the body's natural mucus-clearing system. The technology is based on the use of low-frequency acoustic waves. Unlike other technologies, this device reaches into the lower airways to clear secretions deep in the lungs. The device is also reusable, noninvasive, and drug-free.
Clinical tests have proven that the lung flute can break up mucus in the lungs, making it effective for diagnostic use and therapy.
Robotic lung volume reduction surgery
Traditional lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) involves making a large chest incision to access the lungs to dissect the parts of the lungs that are diseased and dilated. The robotic device requires just three small incisions on the right side of the chest to successfully achieve the same results with no additional scarring as well as minimized infection risk and reduced risk of complications, such as bleeding and post-surgical thrombosis (blood clot formation).
The robotic device consists of three robotic arms and a special arm that carries a three-dimensional camera. The technology uses a high-definition screen that allows a more detailed three-dimensional view of the operating area. The arms are precisely controlled by the surgeon as they perform the procedure.
During valve surgery, the surgeon uses a bronchoscope to put a one-way valve in the airway. This allows the overexpanded part of the lung to release air out of the airway but does not let air in. However, the patient must have damage in the right area of the lung for the valve to work.
Other methods to block off airways and keep sacs from overextending, such as putting in tiny coils, are being tested to see if their benefits outweigh the risks.
Studies have shown a common antibiotic called azithromycin may reduce the number of flare-ups in patients with COPD. However, it is not advised in all cases. The antibiotic reduced flare-ups by about 20% in a selected group of patients.
Interleukin 5 (IL-5) drugs
A new group of biologic drugs called IL-5 antagonists (such as mepolizumab) may work well for COPD patients. New trials of the drugs for people with COPD and high eosinophil counts look promising.
What are current treatment options for COPD?
Treatment for COPD can ease symptoms, prevent complications, and generally slow disease progression. Therapies include:
- Bronchodilators: These medications help relax the muscles of the airways, widening them so that the patient can breathe easier. They are usually taken through an inhaler or a nebulizer. Glucocorticosteroids are also added to reduce inflammation in the airways.
- Combination therapy: COPD medications can be used together to provide more relief from symptoms. Both long-acting beta-2 agonists (LABAs) and long-acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMAs) make airways smaller. A patient may start with a LABA and add a LAMA later or start both drugs together.
- Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors: This type of medication can be taken in pill form to help reduce inflammation and relax the airways. It’s generally prescribed for severe COPD with severe bronchitis.
- Theophylline: Available in pill form, this medication eases chest tightness and shortness of breath and may also help prevent flare-ups. Theophylline is an older medication that may cause side effects. It’s generally not a first-line treatment for COPD therapy.
- Antibiotics and antivirals: Antibiotics or antivirals may be prescribed when the patient develops certain respiratory infections.
- Vaccines: Doctors usually recommend getting an annual flu shot, such as the pneumococcal or the whooping cough vaccine, to avoid respiratory infections.
- Oxygen therapy: Supplemental oxygen is given to the patient through a mask or nasal cannula to help them breathe better.
- Surgery: Surgery is considered when other treatments have failed, which is more likely when the patient has severe respiratory failure.
- Bullectomy: Large, abnormal air spaces (bullae) are removed from the lungs.
- Lung volume reduction surgery: This procedure removes damaged upper lung tissue.
- Lung transplantation: This procedure is an option only in rare cases.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Ikonomou L, Panoskaltsis-Mortari A, Wagner DE, Freishtat RJ, Weiss DJ; American Thoracic Society Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology Assembly Stem Cell Working Group. Unproven Stem Cell Treatments for Lung Disease-An Emerging Public Health Problem. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2017 Apr 1;195(7):P13-P14. https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/stem-cell-therapy.pdf
Health Europa. Innovation in the treatment of COPD. https://www.healtheuropa.eu/innovation-in-the-treatment-of-copd/96981/
Top What Is the Latest Treatment for COPD Related Articles
Can People With COPD Get Better?Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not curable in any stage of the disease. With early diagnosis and treatment, disease progression and flare-ups can be controlled.
Can Someone with COPD Still Have Sex?COPD is a condition that leads to blockage of the airway. COPD may lead to sexual dysfunction, but you can still have sex with COPD.
Can You Have Emphysema Without COPD?Emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) both refer to a group of long-standing lung conditions that can make breathing difficult. What is the difference between emphysema and COPD?
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung condition caused by smoking tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke, and/or air pollutants. Conditions that accompany COPD include chronic bronchitis, chronic cough, and emphysema.
Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, wheezing, and chronic cough. Treatment of COPD includes GOLD guidelines, smoking cessation, medications, and surgery. The life expectancy of a person with COPD depends on the stage of the disease.
COPD QuizCOPD is a combination of three conditions? Take this quiz to learn the three conditions that make up the pulmonary disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Energy Foods for COPDWhat are COPD foods to avoid that may trigger symptoms? Learn more about the COPD diet. Boost your energy and combat COPD with these diet tips.
COPD Lung SymptomsCOPD is a pulmonary disorder caused by obstructions in the airways of the lungs leading to breathing problems. Learn about COPD symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.
COPD vs. Asthma (Differences and Similarities)COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and asthma both have common symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and a tight feeling in the chest. COPD is caused by tobacco smoking, while asthma is caused by your inherited genetic makeup and their interactions with the environment. Risk factors for asthma are obesity, exposure to cigarette smoke (even secondhand smoke), and personal history of hay fever. There is no cure for either disease, but symptoms can be managed with medication. A person with asthma has a better prognosis and life expectancy than someone with COPD.
COPD vs. EmphysemaCOPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the term doctors and other healthcare professionals use to describe a group of serious, progressive (worsens over time), chronic lung diseases that include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and sometimes asthma. The number one cause of COPD or emphysema, is smoking, and smoking is the third leading cause of death in the US.
End-Stage COPD: Signs, Symptoms, and PrognosisChronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of diseases causing an inflammatory reaction and irreversible damage to the lungs. They cause obstruction of airflow and difficulty breathing.
Exercises for COPDThe more you exercise, the better you'll feel with COPD. Breathe easier with these 10 exercises from WebMD.
How Long Do COPD Exacerbations Last?Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations may last for two days or even two weeks, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
Lung Disease & Respiratory Health: Should I Get a COVID-19 Antibody Test?If you had COVID-19 symptoms but never got tested, or if you have long-term symptoms that just won't go away, you may want to get an antibody test. It can tell you if you've already had the virus. Here's what you need to know.
What are the Four Stages of COPD?COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a group of diseases that cause an inflammatory reaction and irreversible damage in the lungs. The result is obstruction of normal airflow and breathing difficulties. COPD is a lifelong condition with periods of flare ups, and is not curable in any stage of the disease. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common diseases that make up COPD.
What Is the Life Expectancy of Someone With COPD?Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of diseases with the chief symptom of breathlessness and cough. COPD is a slowly progressive disease. Depending on the disease severity, the five-year life expectancy for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) ranges from 40%-70%. That means 40-70 out of 100 people will be alive after five years of diagnosis of COPD.