The COPD control panel: towards personalised medicine in COPD

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a heterogeneous disease whose assessment and management have traditionally been based on the severity of airflow limitation (forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1)). Yet, it is now clear that FEV1 alone cannot describe the complexity of the disease. In fact, the recently released Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), 2011 revision has proposed a new combined assessment method using three variables (symptoms, airflow limitation and exacerbations).


Here, we go one step further and propose that in the near future physicians will need a ‘control panel’ for the assessment and optimal management of individual patients with complex diseases, including COPD, that provides a path towards personalised medicine.


We propose that such a ‘COPD control panel’ should include at least three different domains of the disease: severity, activity and impact. Each of these domains presents information on different ‘elements’ of the disease with potential prognostic value and/or with specific therapeutic requirements. All this information can be easily incorporated into an ‘app’ for daily use in clinical practice.


We recognise that this preliminary proposal needs debate, validation and evolution (eg, including ‘omics’ and molecular imaging information in the future), but we hope that it may stimulate debate and research in the field.

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