Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD ) is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. In 2004, COPD was responsible for 3.02 million deaths or 5.1% of all deaths globally (World Health Organization 2008). COPD may account for more than 10% of lost disability-adjusted life years on a worldwide basis (Speizer et al. 2006). The global prevalence of COPD is significant: at any given time, 63.6 million individuals worldwide suffer from COPD. Of these COPD sufferers, 26.6 million experience moderate to severe disability as a result of the disease. This makes COPD the tenth most frequent cause of disability in the world (World Health Organization 2008). COPD is mainly a disease of older adults: more than 95% of all COPD-related deaths occur in people older than age 55 (Beers et al. 2006). Much of COPD can be attributed to cigarette smoking, and there is no question that smoking cessation can prevent further decline in pulmonary function. Yet air pollution is also an important trigger for COPD, particularly in developing countries. Both smoking-related COPD and pollution-related COPD are irreversible, and pulmonary function that is already lost cannot be regained. The disease is progressive; patients experience shortness of breath and exercise limitations which gradually and inevitably worsen over time, stressing the cardiopulmonary system. Patients with COPD typically die of respiratory failure, cardiovascular complications, or co-existing cancer. Importantly, COPD is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease (Maclay et al. 2007). In fact, COPD often develops together with one or more comorbid conditions and almost never occurs alone (Luppi et al. 2008). Currently available treatments for COPD are primarily symptomatic therapies, including pulmonary rehabilitation; bronchodilators to improve airflow; corticosteroids to reduce inflammation; and supplemental oxygen. These interventions cannot stop the eventual worsening of COPD. However, emerging biomaterials for lung regeneration can potentially replace lung tissue that has been destroyed by COPD, ultimately reducing morbidity and mortality from this relentless disease.


Lung Tissue Chronic Bronchitis Pulmonary Rehabilitation Alveolar Wall Clara Cell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Central Research and Development, DuPont CompanyWilmingtonUSA

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