Effectiveness of ‘smart’ inhalers in preventing COPD flare ups is focus of new study

A new study that will monitor patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from the comfort of their own homes, using inhalers with digital sensors and a mobile app, has signed up 42 patients.

What is COPD?

COPD is a debilitating condition characterised by inflammation of the airways, leading to airflow obstruction and various respiratory symptoms.

Exacerbations, which are episodes of worsened inflammation and symptoms, contribute significantly to the burden of COPD. These exacerbations can occur due to disease progression or non-adherence to prescribed treatments, often resulting in increased rescue therapy usage or even hospitalisation.

The INCLINE study uses ‘smart’ inhalers and Atom 5 (a clinical trials database app) to allow researchers and clinicians at the NIHR Leicester BRC to monitor patient’s conditions remotely.

To shed light on the impact of inhaler use and blood eosinophil count on COPD exacerbations, the INCLINE study will use these digital platforms to capture real-time adherence data, identify unrecorded exacerbation events, and potentially predict future exacerbations. Furthermore, it seeks to explore the interplay between patients’ medication-taking habits and the perspectives of their healthcare providers.

The team have so far successfully enrolled 42 out of the targeted 104 participants, and observed an 81% engagement rate, with 34 patients actively participating in the study.

Dr Neil Greening, Associate Professor at the University of Leicester and the NIHR Leicester BRC, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide patients with a novel way to monitor their condition and provide important information to help them manage their COPD.”

Dr Hnin Aung, Clinical Fellow at the University of Leicester, added: “It is wonderful to be able to use Atom5TM to broaden the options for patients to participate in research studies from home and enjoy the benefits of having their condition monitored remotely. The patients are finding Atom5TM easy to use and consequently, we are finding compliance is very high.”

Find more information on the INCLINE study.