Leicester research could pave the way for new treatments for lung diseases

  • By Jennifer Harry
  • BBC news

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Scientists said the study has provided the best picture yet of how our genes affect our lung health

A study that academics claim is the largest and most diverse of its kind could pave the way for new potential treatments for lung disease.

The global study, led by universities in Leicester and Nottingham, linked more than 500 new genes to lung function for the first time.

The study analyzed genome data from 580,869 participants worldwide.

Scientists said it has built the best picture yet of how our genes affect our lung health.

The study, led by the University of Leicester and the University of Nottingham, was able to identify 559 new genes involved in lung function.

Those behind it said it was a huge boost for scientists as they tried to understand which drugs can help improve lung health, as well as which drugs can worsen lung health.

‘A big leap’

They said the findings could pave the way for potential new treatments to target conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, highlighting existing drugs that may have rapid repurposing.

Chronic respiratory diseases, such as COPD, are the third leading cause of death worldwide.

The study’s lead researcher, Prof Martin Tobin from the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Leicester, said: “This is a major leap forward in terms of the size and ethnic diversity of the population that we have previously been able to study. is a huge step in the number of associated genetic variants that we have discovered.

“Our genetic research results can be used to generate individual risk scores that can personalize drugs.

“At this stage, the risk scores we have developed are important tools for further research, but in the future they could help select which drugs are most effective for individual patients and which drugs should be avoided.”

Inclusion ‘important’

The study combined genomic information from multiple studies worldwide.

prof. Ian Hall, principal at the University of Nottingham, said: “Involving people from different backgrounds in genetic research is important to ensure that all groups of people benefit from the advances in prevention and treatment that such research can bring.

“However, at the moment, the majority of people in genetic studies have a white background.

“In the future, we urgently need more studies across different ethnic groups to provide the necessary sample size to really advance the field.”

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