Chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) are diseases of the airways and other structure of the lung and they are a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Previous attempts to characterize the burden of chronic respiratory diseases have focused only on most common specific disease conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and pulmonary hypertension. An estimated 3 million people die each year from COPDs with 90% of them coming from low-income and middle-income countries. Notably, more than 230 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, which is a common disease among children.
A new study published on The Lancet Respiratory Medicine in 2020 presents the results of a different systematic analysis aiming to characterize the burden of chronic respiratory diseases globally and providing a comprehensive and up-to-date analysis on geographical and time trends from 1990 to 2017.
Specific diseases analysed included asthma, COPD, interstitial lung disease and pulmonary sarcoidosis, pneumoconiosis, and other chronic respiratory diseases. Moreover, the contribution of risk factors (smoking, second-hand smoke, ambient particulate matter and ozone pollution, household air pollution from solid fuels, and occupational risks) to chronic respiratory disease-attributable DALYs (Disability Adjusted Life Years) were assessed. From this analysis arises that in 2017, 544·9 million people worldwide had a chronic respiratory disease, representing an increase of 39·8% compared with 1990. Chronic respiratory disease prevalence showed wide global variability with the highest prevalence among both males and females in high-income regions. In males and females, most chronic respiratory disease-attributable deaths and DALYs were due to COPD. Death rates due to interstitial lung disease and pulmonary sarcoidosis were greater than those due to pneumoconiosis in all super-regions. Smoking was the leading risk factor for chronic respiratory disease-related disability across all regions for men. Among women, household air pollution from solid fuels was the predominant risk factor for chronic respiratory diseases in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, while ambient particulate matter represented the leading risk factor in southeast Asia, east Asia, and Oceania, and in the Middle East and north Africa super-region. Globally premature mortality from chronic respiratory diseases seems to be highest in regions with less-resourced health systems on a per-capita basis.
To this day CRDs are not curable, but there are a variety of treatments that can help control the symptoms and therefore improve the quality of life for people with these diseases. Considering that the World Health Organization predicts that COPD will become the third leading cause of death by 2030, this has become a therapeutic area carrying major interests among pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
The current challenges for this therapeutic area are to further alleviate the symptoms and investigate the reasons why the lungs accumulate such damage. It would be of staggering importance at this stage to develop a tool for early disease detection in order to better manage symptoms and possibly slow the progression of the disease.
OPIS has managed over 60 studies in this therapeutic area and can therefore be considered a respiratory-focused CRO, with the necessary expertise and know-how to provide and excellent service to the Sponsors that are tackling this ever-growing challenge in order to bring new therapies to the market.