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Genetic Ancestry Data Improve Diagnosis in Asthma and Lung Disease
Date:7/7/2010

Americans with lung disease may face a far greater level of lung damage than either they or their doctor suspect, depending on their individual genetic heritage, according to a study to be released July 7. The research implications range from diagnosing the severity of asthma, to disability decisions or eligibility for lung transplants, researchers say.

(Vocus) July 7, 2010 -- Americans with lung disease may face a far greater level of lung damage than either they or their doctor suspect, depending on their individual genetic heritage, according to a study to be released July 7. The research implications range from diagnosing the severity of asthma, to disability decisions or eligibility for lung transplants, researchers say.

In the largest study of its kind to date, spanning a dozen research centers and pooling data on more than 3,000 patients, a team of researchers led by UCSF and Northwestern University found that patients’ precise genetic background told far more about their potential lung function – and therefore any damage that has occurred – than the self-identified racial profile commonly used in such tests.

The results point to a more precise method of assessing patients’ lung function, as well as the potential impact of using precise genetic benchmarks for assessing health overall, researchers say. Findings will appear in the July 22 print edition of the “New England Journal of Medicine” and online on July 7 at nejm.org.

Lung function is one of many medical assessments that use standard benchmarks, such as age, sex and race, to determine the normal expected range for an individual patient. Similar criteria also are used in assessing kidney function or the risk for some cancers. In patients with lung disease, t
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