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Five Gene Variants May Be Linked to Lung Disease

Last Updated: December 14, 2009.

Findings might lead to better treatments for asthma, COPD, researchers say.

MONDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have identified five genetic variants that influence lung function, a finding that may help lead to better treatments for lung diseases.

The international team of researchers compared lung function with genetic variants at each of the 2.5 million sites across the human genome in more than 20,000 people of European ancestry. This led the team to the five common genetic variants associated with alterations in lung function.

The findings of the study, which was led by Martin Tobin from the University of Leicester and Ian Hall from the University of Nottingham, were published online Dec. 13 in the journal Nature Genetics.

"This work is important because until now we have known very little about the genetic factors that determine an individual's lung function," the study authors wrote. "By identifying the genes important in determining lung function, we can start to unravel the underlying mechanisms which control both lung development and lung damage. This will lead to a better understanding of diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. Crucially, it could open up new opportunities to manage and treat patients with lung conditions."

While these findings are important, they won't immediately lead to genetic tests to identify people who will develop lung disease, the researchers noted.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

SOURCE: Universities of Leicester and Nottingham, news release, Dec. 13, 2009