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Study: Five genes linked to abnormal lung function

Category: Allergy Testing

Treatments for asthma and other lung diseases may improve after a recent study identified five genetic variants that likely influence lung function, researchers say.

The study, published in the December 13 issue of the journal Nature Genetics examined genetic variants throughout the entire human genome in more than 20,000 people of European descent.

Comparing each of the genes to the patient's history of medical history, the international team of researchers found five genetic variants associated with abnormal lung function.

"This work is important because until new we have known very little about the genetic factors that determine an individual's lung function," wrote the study's authors, led by Dr Martin Tobin from the University of Leicester and Professor Ian Hall from the University of Nottingham.

They added, "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."

Specifically, the scientists expect the research to contribute to the development of new treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. Prior attempts to develop treatments for the vascular conditions have been hindered by a lack of knowledge about the molecular processes of lung health.

By identifying the five common genetic variants in those with COPD and asthma, the team of 96 scientists anticipates targeting the molecular pathways through drug therapy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the term COPD encompasses conditions like chronic bronchitis and emphysema and affects about 1 in 10 adults over the age of 40.

Controlling asthma during the holidays

Though individuals cannot control their genetic makeup, they can take measures to deter the symptoms of COPD and asthma, especially around the holidays.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD, while other lung irritants such as air pollution, chemical fumes or dust may also contribute to symptoms.

Unfortunately, people with allergies, asthma or abnormal lung function may have avoidable reactions to certain holiday traditions.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) has laid out simple steps to minimize their sneezing and wheezing this holiday season, especially in households adorned with live or artificial plants as festive decorations, HealthDay News reports.

Many allergies are triggered by terpene, which is found in the sap of live evergreen trees, wreaths and garlands, according to the ACAAI. However, washing pollen or mold off of live trees, especially at the trunk, can dramatically reduce an asthmatic's contact with the allergens.

The precaution also applies to artificial trees and ornaments which may have collected dust or mold during the 11 months they were stored away. Thoroughly cleaning each item before displaying them can keep sneezing to a minimum, according to the experts.

Finally, the ACAAI warns that the use of artificial snow spray, scented candles, potpourri and wood-burning fireplaces can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms.

Though the wintry holidays may seem like a hazard to asthma and allergy sufferers, the cold weather may actually provide a reprieve to the irritating symptoms of the conditions.

Researchers from the University of Michigan Asthma and Allergy Program found that raises in humidity levels by more than 10 percent and temperature levels by more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit resulted in significantly more children reporting asthma or allergy symptoms in Detroit area hospitals, according to HealthDay News.

Dr Alan Baptist, the study's lead author, explained allergy testing revealed that "an inter-day change of 10 degrees one day before the admission resulted in two additional visits" to the emergency room by children.

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