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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

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The Story

Around 3.2 million people per year die from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), so it is now the third commonest cause of death worldwide; something that was not predicted to occur until 2030.

COPD is characterised by poorly reversible airflow limitation and as it was considered the main symptom of the disease, airflow was the focus of early exploratory studies and therapy development. COPD is actually a broad term that covers several different diseases while the most common symptoms are dyspnoea, cough, increased daytime and morning breathlessness, and increased sputum production. Exacerbations are sudden worsening of symptoms and cause further damage to the lung.

Despite the new discoveries, patients with COPD still often get misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, as the initial symptoms are dismissed as asthma and consequence of smoking or aging by the uninformed general public. An alternative is the deployment of so-called 'omic' approaches which allow comprehensive assessments of patient biofluids.


Mass Spectrometry (MS) allows us to screen for metabolite biomarkers in samples and, as such, has potential to be used to identify biomarkers which could be developed into a non-invasive COPD diagnostic, “point-of-care” platform.

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Miss Sarah Thomas

Doctoral student

Sarah has a BSc (Hons) in Genetics, and is in year 2 of her PhD at Aberystwyth University, where she researches microbial and metabolite markers of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She has interests in antimicrobial resistance and microbiomes, of both humans and in the environments we interact with.

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Miss Tina Kramarić

Masters student

Tina is an MBiol student researching biomarkers of COPD and lung cancer with the aim of improving detection and personalised medicine strategies. Her interests lie in using 'omics' techniques to improve respiratory disease and cancer detection and treatments.

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