The CeKOL Research Project

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a growing problem in Denmark although a lot of effort has been put into preventing cigarette smoking. COPD ranks as the fifth leading cause of death in Denmark. For that reason, optimizing therapy and methods to track the progress of COPD development are needed. Biomarkers are substances in the body that can be objectively measured and gradual increased or decreased levels are associated to the progression of the disease.

The main goal of the project is to investigate the utility of two protein biomarkers called surfactant protein D (SP-D) and microfibril-associated protein 4 (MFAP4). Both proteins are primarily expressed in the lungs, retrieved in the circulation and protect against COPD given that mice lacking these proteins, spontaneously develop emphysema. SP-D also plays an important role in the pulmonary immune system by preventing infections. Several studies have shown that SP-D serum levels serve as a better indicator of the dyspnoe status of COPD patients than the traditionally used pulmonary function tests and SP-D levels were also suggested as predictor of COPD exacerbations.

The aims of this project are to establish how increased levels of both SP-D and MFAP4 can contribute to the prediction of COPD development in patients.

a.       Identification of the subtype of COPD pathology affected by SP-D and MFAP4 in mice

b.      Evaluation of novel human COPD subgroups defined by levels of SP-D and MFAP4, both cross-sectionally and in relation to changes over time in markers of severity of COPD

c.       Evaluation of the predictive or prognostic value of SP-D and MFAP4 in COPD outpatients regarding risk of exacerbations and disease progression

d.      Evaluation of cost and cost-effectiveness of using SP-D and MFAP4 as COPD biomarkers

The economic and therapeutic benefits of SP-D and MFAP4 biomarkers from different groups of COPD patients will clarify the true clinical value of the biomarkers through knowledge from basic research, clinicinal testing and health-economical evaluatoion.