Scientists have discovered five genetic variants that are associated with the health of the human lung. The research by an international consortium of 96 scientists from 63 centres in Europe and Australia sheds new light on the molecular basis of lung diseases.
The new findings provide hope for better treatment for lung diseases like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma. In the past it has been difficult to develop new treatments because the molecular pathways that affect the health of the lung are not completely understood. It's hoped the new pathways discovered could in the future be targeted by drugs.
The ground-breaking research involved a genetic study of 2.5 million sites across the human genome involving samples from 20,000 people across the world. The consortium was led by Dr Martin Tobin from the University of Leicester and Professor Ian Hall from The University of Nottingham.
The research, part-funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Asthma UK, is published today in Nature Genetics. It represents a significant advance because it is the first time that these five common genetic variations have been definitely linked with lung function.
The scientists said: "This work is important because until now we have known very little about the genetic factors that determine an individual's lung function. By identifying the genes important in determining lung function, we can start to unravel the underlying mechanisms which control both lung development and lung damage. This will lead to a better understanding of diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. Crucially, it could open up new opportunities to manage and treat patients with lung conditions".
The authors added: "A large reduction in lung function occurs in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which affects around 1 in 10 adults above the age of 40 and is thought to be the fourth most
|Contact: Dr. Martin Tobin|
University of Leicester