September 20, 2023

Dupilumab for COPD with Type 2 Inflammation Indicated by Eosinophil Counts

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Surya Bhatt, M.D., MSPHSurya Bhatt, M.D., MSPHSurya Bhatt, M.D., MSPH, professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, & Critical Care Medicine, is the latest winner of the Heersink School of Medicine's Featured Discovery. This initiative celebrates important research from Heersink faculty members.

Bhatt’s study, "Dupilumab for COPD with Type 2 Inflammation Indicated by Eosinophil Counts,” was recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Bhatt and colleagues conducted a multicenter randomized controlled clinical study involving individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) characterized by elevated blood eosinophils, who continued to experience frequent exacerbations despite optimizing their inhaler use.

Administering subcutaneous dupilumab injections every two weeks led to a significant 30% reduction in exacerbation occurrences over a 52-week span. Moreover, dupilumab brought about swift enhancements in lung function, quality of life, and daily symptoms.

“The high effect size of a 30% reduction in exacerbation frequency is remarkable,” said Bhatt. “Unlike other trials of biologics for COPD, dupilumab also resulted in a significant improvement in lung function and symptoms within 2 weeks of initiation, likely due to suppression of mucus production.”

The Heersink communications staff sat with Dr. Bhatt to gain insight into this study, UAB, and the science community.

Q: What was your most unexpected finding?

What truly stands out is the substantial impact of a 30% decrease in exacerbation frequency. In contrast to previous biologic trials targeting COPD, dupilumab demonstrated a noteworthy ability to enhance lung function and alleviate symptoms within two weeks of commencement, most likely due to its ability to suppress mucus production.

Q: How do you feel your research will impact the science community?

Patients with COPD continue to suffer from frequent exacerbations as well as from a high symptom burden despite the optimization of inhaled medications. This study is an example of endotyping whereby individuals with predominant type 2 inflammation as indicated by high blood eosinophil counts were identified and specifically targeted. This has the potential to be recognized as the first biologic therapy to work in individuals with COPD.

Q: How has being at UAB and living in Birmingham affected your research?

Working at UAB is an enjoyable experience. We have an exceptionally impressive team of researchers and a wide-ranging patient demographic. This synergy has positioned us as a top enroller for numerous COPD clinical trials.

Q: What motivated your decision to join UAB?

As I was finishing my pulmonary fellowship, I started looking for universities with a strong track record of clinical and translational research in COPD. I felt then, and continue to believe, that UAB has the infrastructure and environment for clinical research that are truly outstanding.