Dr Don Sin Describes Promising COPD Biomarkers

Blood eosinophil count is a promising biomarker and example of the pathway toward precision medicine in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), said Don Sin, MD, FRCP, MPH, a professor of respiratory medicine at the University of British Columbia and head of the Centre of Heart Lung Innovation, St. Paul’s Hospital.

Blood eosinophil count is a promising biomarker and example of the pathway toward precision medicine in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), said Don Sin, MD, FRCP, MPH, a professor of respiratory medicine at the University of British Columbia and head of the Centre of Heart Lung Innovation, St. Paul’s Hospital.

Transcript

What are some promising biomarkers that are being studied for COPD?

One that should be implemented clinically is blood eosinophil count. Eosinophils have been traditionally linked with asthma, but it is now very clear, even in COPD, that individuals with elevated blood eosinophil count—which can be done very, very quickly and cheaply in most laboratories around the world—those with elevated eosinophil count will respond better to inhaled corticosteroids and those with lower eosinophil count will not and inhaled corticosteroids can be restrained in that subpopulation. I think that is a very, very promising biomarker and example of the pathway towards precision medicine in COPD.

There are other clinical examples, like who to give oxygen therapy. We now know that if we do a simple oximetry reading and show that an individual has resting hypoxia, they will do much better with supplemental oxygen. But if they are only hypoxic with exertion, then they won't. That's another example of precision medicine. We wouldn't give a supplement option to all hypoxic patients, only those who demonstrate hypoxia at rest and for 24 hours.