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World first trial for smokers aims to reduce lung disease, through early intervention

Media release: 
23/11/2016

Young smokers are being sought for a ground breaking study to tackle one of the biggest burdens of disease in Australia and around the world.

People aged 25-45 are being sought to take part in a trial of a product to try and slow down lung function decline in smokers, and reduce rates of chronic bronchitis and emphysema known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Currently the only way to reduce the damage caused by smoking is to quit.

Professor Christine Jenkins, of The George Institute for Global Health, said the trial was not intended to encourage people to keep smoking.

Professor Jenkins, head of Respiratory Trials at The George Institute, said: “This is not a get out of jail free card for smokers. We know that millions of people around the world are addicted to tobacco and find it very hard to give up smoking.  What we want to do is to see if we can slow down, and potentially even help some young smokers avoid emphysema and chronic bronchitis which are incredibly debilitating conditions.

“COPD is a huge burden on the healthcare system.  It’s the second leading cause of avoidable hospital admissions, and affects one in seven Australians.”

The fully independent study is being funded by GSK with an investment of $1.3 million.

Dr Andrew Weekes, Medical Director of GSK Australia, said: "GSK has been investing in respiratory research for over 40 years. This Australian study is one of the largest independent studies supported by GSK. We are pleased to support this study which explores a unique question regarding progression of lung disease in smokers.”

The product, two long acting bronchodilators, is taken through an easy to use inhaler once a day. It works by opening up the airways. The study treatment will not prevent other illnesses associated with smoking such as lung cancer.

Recruitment

The study, conducted by The George Institute in Sydney, in collaboration with the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Concord, Campbelltown and Royal North Shore Hospitals, is seeking to enrol 320 current smokers, aged between 25 and 45, with no symptoms as yet of lung disease. All volunteers will be advised and supported to give up smoking and offered a smoking cessation course first.  People who then go onto participate in the trial will have their condition closely monitored by respiratory specialists. The study will run for 12 months.

People seeking further information about the study can visit this website: http://woolcock.org.au/ecos