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Brits lead lung gene findings

Monday September 26th, 2011

Researchers have made major discoveries about the genetics of lung health, it was announced last night.

Some 16 sections of genetic codes were linked to lung health, opening up hope of new treatments for chronic diseases.

The findings were reported in Nature Genetics.

Researchers from Notting and Leicester universities in the UK led the research which involved studying some 48,000 people globally at 126 centres in Europe, the USA and Australia.

The project involved some 175 scientists and the study of 2.5 million genetic variants.

Researcher Professor Ian Hall - who is dean of Nottingham University's medical school - said: "We now need to take the knowledge gained from this study to do two things: firstly to learn more about the function of genes which contribute to the risk of developing lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -COPD, and secondly to try and develop strategies to use genetic information to improve the clinical care provided to individual patients."

Professor Martin Tobin, from Leicester, said stopping smoking remained the best way to prevent COPD - but it was possible the findings would help to screen for those at risk.

He said: "Smoking is the most important risk for developing COPD. Smokers are not all equally likely to develop COPD and differences in susceptibility occur due to the genetic variants people carry. For the first time we understand what so many of these genetic variants are, including the underlying mechanisms that they point to. We now need to prioritise research to better understand these disease mechanisms and inform improved patient care."

He added: "These discoveries could provide the key to new therapies for lung diseases such as COPD."

Nature Genetics September 25 2011

Tags: Europe | Genetics | North America | Respiratory | UK News | World Health

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