Scientists have for the first time discovered sixteen new sections of the genetic code that relate to lung health -- opening up the possibility for better prevention as well as treatment for lung diseases.
An international consortium of 175 scientists from 126 centres in Europe, the USA and Australia identified genetic variants associated with the health of the human lung. Their discovery sheds new light on the molecular basis of lung diseases like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
It is the first time that these sixteen common genetic variants have been definitely linked with lung function. Researchers say the new pathways discovered could be targeted by drugs.
The study was led by Professor Martin Tobin from the University of Leicester, and Professor Ian Hall from The University of Nottingham and Dr Stephanie London from the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
The pioneering research involved a genetic study of 2.5 million genetic variants in each of 48,201 people across the world. A smaller number of the most promising variants were then studied in a further 46,411 individuals. The research, part-funded by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust, is published today in Nature Genetics.
The recent discoveries build on research published by the same authors last year, bringing the total number of genetic variants associated with lung function to twenty six. The same authors also showed, in research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in June 2011, that variants which predict lung function also predict the disease, COPD.
Professor Martin Tobin, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Public Health & MRC Senior Clinical Fellow at the University of Leicester, said: "COPD - a progressive disease that makes it hard for people to breathe - affects around 1 in 10 adults above the age of 40 and is fourth most com
|Contact: Dr Martin Tobin |
University of Leicester