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UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Adults Needed for Pitt Study Investigating New Treatment for COPD

PITTSBURGH, May 18, 2010 – Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a degenerative breathing disorder, is the fourth-leading cause of death and the second-leading cause of disability in the U.S. each year. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Emphysema Research Center are seeking patients between the ages of 45 and 80 to participate in a study to determine if an oral drug can help control the disease’s progression and improve patients’ quality of life.

According to Frank C. Sciurba, M.D., a co-investigator of the study and director of the Emphysema Research Center in the division of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine, the disease continues to grow across the population. COPD is commonly related to smoking, diminishes breathing capacity over time, and includes conditions such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

“Smoking rates have decreased nationwide, but the rates in western Pennsylvania remain among the highest. A quarter of our population still smokes, and there are millions of former smokers who are at risk of developing COPD,” Dr. Sciurba said.

The phase II study will examine the efficacy of oral cyclosporine, a drug that works by selectively regulating T-cell proliferation of the immune system.

“We have known for several years that T-cells and other cells of the immune system are abnormally active in the lungs of COPD patients,” said Steven R. Duncan, M.D., a co-investigator of the study. “Recent studies show that the lungs of these patients are mistakenly being attacked by their own immune system―a process called autoimmune disease. We hope that controlling this autoimmunity will slow down the COPD disease process.”

Patients interested in the study will undergo a screening assessment to determine whether they meet the eligibility criteria. The study will enroll 30 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of advanced stage COPD. For further information, call 1-866-948-COPD (2673).

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

As one of the nation’s leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997 and now ranks fifth in the nation, according to preliminary data for fiscal year 2008. Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region’s economy. For more information about the School of Medicine, see

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