The researchers of the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham have done a study to discover the risk of development of chronic lung disease in smokers and non-smokers both.
This study has been published in the Nature Genetics journal on February 25th, 2019.
According to this study, our genetic differences can help to explain the reasons behind the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The researchers have examined why those people who never smoked and why some regular smokers are at a higher risk of development of this disease than other smokers.
This study was being done for about two years. Under this study, 400,000 people took part and the researchers have measured 20 million (2 crore) differences in their DNA. These DNA results were then compared to the measurements of lung function. The functions of the lung were examined through the breath tests.
In the results of this analysis, 139 new genetic differences have been discovered that influence lung health as well as COPD.
Louise Wain, a professor from British Lung Foundation and the lead author of the study said, "It is well established that smoking is a major risk factor for COPD, yet the mechanisms which cause smokers and non-smokers alike to develop COPD are poorly understood.”
Professor Wain also said, “Our study provides vital clues as to why some people develop COPD and others don't, and new knowledge that will help to develop new treatments to halt the decline in lung function observed in patients with COPD."
Professor Martin Tobin, a co-lead author of the study said, "We are closer to understanding the genetic causes of this condition in people who have never smoked. People who smoke also appear to have a similar pattern of genetic risk factors, alongside the added risk of tobacco smoking. Our findings can help in developing new treatments that will benefit both groups.”
COPD is a lung disease that causes breathlessness and becomes a threat to life. It is due to the damage in the airways. It has been reported that smoking increases the risk of COPD, but 1 in 5 COPD patients are non-smokers.
During the study, participants were divided into 10 different genetic risk groups. It was found that about 8 from 10 smokers developed COPD in the highest genetic risk group. Though non-smokers were at lower risk, around 2 in 10 non-smokers still developed COPD.
Overall 279 DNA differences were found that affect the health of lung and increases the risk of COPD. The team of researchers identified genetic differences that were the significant contributors to the risk of COPD.
This disease affects around 250 million (25 crore) people yearly and approximately 3.1 million (31 lakh) deaths are reported due to it globally. After this study, identification of genetic differences can aid to develop many new treatments to further improve global health.
In order to prevent the risk of COPD, it is necessary to avoid smoking. If we reduce our exposure to air pollution, it can also bring favorable results. One of the researchers of the study has said that the COPD patients are now looking for better treatments and this research is a great step towards it.