Georgia State researchers find tolerance to COPD drug

By Claire Irvin

Georgia State Director of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences Dr. Jian-Dong Li recently revealed the cause for drug tolerance in COPD patients in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, according to a Georgia State news release.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, is a lung disease that worsens with time and frequently affects senior citizens, according to Li.

Georgia State, Kumamoto University and the University of Rochester Medical Center conducted the research and the project was funded by the National Institute of Health, according to the news release.

COPD is commonly caused by smoking and can yield mucus production, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness, according to the news release.

Roflumilast, a prescription drug, was created to help stop the enzymatic activity, reduce flare ups, and halt worsening symptoms, according to the news release.

“[It’s] because of the challenge in developing new drugs due [to] the insufficient understanding of the pathogenesis of this complex disease,” Li said.

Priyanka Parekh, a Georgia State biology major, said the drug is still necessary.

“Despite the loss of effectiveness in the drug, I feel the positives outweigh the negatives,” she said. “Because the disease is the fourth leading cause of death internationally, this drug should continually be used until a more effective one is found.”

However, COPD patients taking Roflumilast may become tolerant to the drug and enables the protein, PDE4B2, to be produced. PDE4B2 is an unwanted protein that causes inflammation in the lungs, which makes the drug counterproductive, according to the news release.

Roflumilast is the only effective drug for severe COPD, because the complicated nature of the disease cannot be easily understood, according to Li.

Li said the research is not over and the next step is for the study to get a better understanding of controlling Roflumilast’s counterproductivity.