Research is needed in six key areas related to COPD.
- As smoking rates in Europe are declining, the relative importance of other risk factors to COPD will increase. There is a need to know how this will affect the clinical manifestations and prognosis of the disease.
- Although spirometry is a prerequisite in COPD studies, more extensive characterisation of disease than that offered by spirometry is required. Novel imaging techniques and biomarkers offer the potential to characterise subgroups, or phenotypes, of COPD.
- Limited data are available about the prevalence, incidence and natural history of various phenotypes of COPD, and their economic burden on European societies.
- Our knowledge of the pathogenesis of COPD and how this can be modified is still limited. Novel molecular and genetic techniques offer promising possibilities for gaining important knowledge on disease mechanisms, which opens up possibilities for development of new drugs.
- Cohort studies should be conducted to assess the long-term natural history of COPD and its phenotypes.
- The lungs are extremely exposed to the environment. There are few data on how global warming will affect the risk factors for, and eventually the incidence of, COPD.