Researchers from the University of Aberdeen are to give drugs traditionally used to treat blood pressure and heart disease to lung disease patients to see if they can be beneficial.

The study will test beta-blockers - which are more commonly used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease - in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The trial, being run out of multiple centres across the UK including Aberdeen and Dundee, will be funded by the UK National Institute for Health Research, and will recruit more than 1,500 patients with COPD from 160 centres across the UK.

Professor Brian Lipworth of the Scottish Centre of Respiratory Disease, University of Dundee said: “We have already shown that bisoprolol is safe to use in COPD in this trial we will assess if bisoprolol might decrease exacerbations of COPD with the ultimate aim to see if it might improve survival.”

There is no cure for COPD, which costs the NHS £1 billion per year and can be hard to treat. it causes narrowing of the airways, which in turn causes breathing problems, and often a persistent cough and chest infections. COPD flare-ups shorten life expectancy and impact people’s ability to get on with daily life, with around 60% of the £1billion spent on the condition being used to treat such flare-ups.

Professor Graham Devereux, from the University of Aberdeen also commented: “One of the problems with COPD is that despite improvements in inhalers, COPD continues to be a major problem. The evidence that beta-blockers might help people with COPD is very exciting and a potential game changer in our approach to this disease.”