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Identification of obstructive pulmonary gene may lead to new treatments

Category: DNA, Paternity and Genetic testing

A gene variant which is associated with inflammation may protect the lungs of children with asthma as well as adult smokers and could lead to new methods of treatment for certain pulmonary diseases.

According to a study published in the December 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a variant of the MMP12 gene was associated with better lung function in children with asthma and a reduced risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in former and current adult smokers, HealthDay News reports.

The results are based on genetic testing of seven groups of people totaling 8,300 children and adults by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

In addition, MMP12 has been associated with the development of emphysema in mice that are exposed to smoke, leading scientists to believe a similar link may exist in humans.

"Levels of the MMP12 gene may impact the quality of life for individuals with asthma and COPD, and may allow us to come up with potential therapeutic approaches," Jeffrey Cirillo, professor of microbial pathogenesis at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, told the news source.

According to the World Health Organization, second-hand smoke can produce a 10 percent to 43 percent increase in risk of COPD in adults.

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