This COPD study is currently ongoing with Dr Arwel Jones acting as the lead.
A sudden worsening in symptoms (breathlessness, coughing, sputum) of a COPD patient is referred to as a exacerbation (flare-up). COPD patients who experience frequent exacerbations are widely accepted as a distinct subgroup (phenotype) and, when compared to patients with infrequent exacerbations, show faster disease progression, decreased levels of physical activity and lower quality of life.
Although research has described these patients as the “frequent exacerbator”, we don’t fully understand the reasons why they suffer such events on a regular basis. We think this may be due a weakened immune system and susceptibility to respiratory infections. Unfortunately, research so far in this area has only focused on experiments with blood and sputum samples in a test tube.
Responses to vaccination provide one of the most useful ways to understand how well our whole immune system is working. All COPD patients should be given an annual flu vaccination. In general, results show that COPD patients have poorer immune responses to vaccination than healthy adults of a similar age. This project aims to understand whether responses to vaccination differ between COPD patients with or without a history of exacerbations.