COPD biomarkers and phenotypes: opportunities for better outcomes with precision imaging

Date Published:

2018 Nov


A number of chronic diseases have benefited from both imaging and personalised medicine, but unfortunately, for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), there has been little clinical uptake or recognition of the key advances in thoracic imaging that might help detect disease early, or, perhaps more importantly, might help develop and phenotype patients for novel or personalised therapies that may halt disease progression. We outline our vision for how computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging may be used to better inform COPD patient care, and, perhaps more importantly, how these may be used to help develop new therapies directed at early disease. We think that imaging and precision medicine should be considered and used together as "precision imaging" at specific stages of COPD when the major pathologies may be more responsive to therapy. While "precision medicine" is the tailoring of medical treatment to individual patients, we define "precision imaging" as the tailoring of specific therapies and interventions to individual patients with a detailed quantitative understanding of their specific imaging phenotypes and measurements. Finally, we stress the importance of "seeing" the pathology, because without this understanding, you can neither treat nor cure patients with COPD.