A therapy in development called “targeted lung denervation” (TLD) may be a future treatment option for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) if results from a first-in-human study are duplicated and validated.

TLD is a bronchoscopic therapy based on ablation of parasympathetic pulmonary nerves that release acetylcholine, which, in turn, leads to smooth muscle constriction in the bronchi. TLD, delivered through a dual-cooled radiofrequency (RF) catheter, is designed to ablate targeted tissue “at depth with minimal heating and damage of the inner surface of the airway,” researchers wrote online March 4 in Thorax.

“We demonstrated the sustained effect out to one year from TLD therapy. We were also pleased to see a greater improvement in exercise endurance and quality of life when compared to medications,” Dr. Dirk-Jan Slebos, of the University of Groningen Medical Center in the Netherlands, told Reuters Health by email. “Patients could cycle longer when tested one year after the procedure than prior to receiving treatment.”