"Inflammation plays an important role in lung disease, so there is a huge potential for therapy in lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease," Keddissi said.
The two trials do not yet provide nearly enough information to warrant routine use of statin therapy for lung disease, however.
"Where you go from here is a controlled clinical trial," Schwartz said. "I would think that a clinical trial doesn't seem like a risky thing, and it would get support. There are a lot of people interested in selling statins."
The potential of statin treatment seems great for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which affects an estimated 20 million Americans, Keddissi said.
"We have no effective treatments for COPD now," Keddissi noted. "Only bronchodilators at the start, and then oxygen."
"I wouldn't put anyone on statins at this point if they had lung disease," Keddissi said. But the Oklahoma group is taking a first step toward the use of these medications for lung trouble. "We are starting some work here in Oklahoma City, studying people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with statins," Keddissi said.
For more on statins, head to the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
SOURCES: Joel Schwartz, Ph.D., professor, environmental epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Jean I. Keddissi, M.D., associate professor, medicine, University of Oklahoma Medical Center, Oklahoma City; October 2007, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
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