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Cigarettes leave deadly path by purging protective genes
Date:1/23/2008

A University of Rochester scientist discovered that the toxins in cigarette smoke wipe out a gene that plays a vital role in protecting the body from the effects of premature aging. Without this gene we not only lose a bit of youthfulness but the lungs are left open to destructive inflammation and diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.

By identifying the Sirtuin (SIRT1) genes role in pulmonary disease, scientists also hope to find ways to restore it and jump-start lung healing. Theyve begun testing the powerful antioxidant resveratrol, which is extracted from red grape skins, to develop a treatment to target SIRT1 and reverse lung damage, or at least enhance the way standard COPD therapies work.

This novel protein will allow us to program our bodys immune-inflammatory system against lung damage and premature aging. The hallmark of this discovery is that we may be able to provide remedies to millions of smokers who would like to quit but cannot kick their addiction, and millions of former smokers who, despite quitting, remain at risk for illness as they age, said Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., associate professor of Environmental Medicine and an investigator in the University of Rochesters Lung Biology and Disease Program.

The research was published in two separate studies, in the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine, appearing online Jan. 3, 2008, and in the American Journal of Physiology, appearing Dec. 27, 2007.

Approximately 23 million Americans have COPD, which is induced by inflammation and results in progressive breathlessness. By the year 2020, it is expected to be the third leading cause of death worldwide; today at least 9 percent of the elderly population is estimated to suffer from debilitating lung conditions.

Rahman has spent years studying how the 4,700 toxic chemical compounds in cigarettes assault lung tissue. He also focuses on why some people seem g
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Contact: Leslie Orr
leslie_orr@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-5774
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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