Vancouver team aims to improve COPD treatments


It’s been 12 years since Bill Koeninger was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – a lung disease better known as COPD.You wake up int he morning, you put your feet on the ground, and say ‘hey, I’m alive, I can still breathe. And you get on with your day,’” said Koeninger, who now needs oxygen and a walk when he exerts himself. It damages the lungs, causing holes to form, while clogging up airways with mucus. Story continues below

Koeninger is one of 80,000 British Columbians who live with COPD, a number that has risen by 40 per cent in the last decade. What is needed are therapies better than the ones that exist today, something Dr. Don Sin at Providence Health Care has dedicated his career to.“They’re powerful, they make patients feel better, but they do not change the course of COPD,” says Sin of current treatments. He’s been studying his patients’ genes, trying to find the actual causes. “We need additional therapies, new therapies, to modify the disease…we’ve already specific genes and molecules, so it’s a matter of finding compounds that can reverse it.”He’s partnering with the Centre for Drug Research and Development and UBC. It’s hoped that further work on genetic translation will get industry interested in investing in potential drugs. “It’s a revolution. Things are happening at a rapid pace. And before you know it, therapies will be here,” says Sin.