(Mirror Daily, United States) – British scientists have done it again when they discovered which genetic factors help some lifetime smokers maintain healthy lungs. A team of investigators funded by the Medical Research Council said that treatments for diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) could be developed following the results of this research.
Moreover, the findings – which also helped scientists better understand what makes a person more prone to become addicted to cigarettes and nicotine – could offer more options to people who want to quit this habit.
Professors Martin Tobin at the University of Leicester and Ian Hall at the University of Nottingham lead the team which found that some DNA profiles presented a lower chance of developing COPD – a set of lung disorders such as bronchitis and emphysema – than others, regardless of factors like smoking.
It turns out that these specific genes had something to do with the way lungs respond to injury caused by the damaging effects of smoking. At the same time, there are other DNA profiles with higher risk of COPD, which finally explains why some people develop the disease even though they haven’t touched a cigarette in their lives.
But according to Tobin, the study isn’t looking to give the green light to people sustaining a 40-a-day habit. Smoking remains the greatest lifestyle risk factor when it comes to COPD, even though not all smokers develop it. Just like it is with smoking behavior, genetics play a huge role in this as well.
Ideally, the best way to prevent smoking-related diseases is to stop smoking altogether, no doubt. The research is looking for way to better prevent and treat COPD, but further investigation is required in order to gain a better understanding.
So far, Hall and Tobin’s team was able to discover which sections of DNA are related to being a heavy smoker. Even though their precise role needs confirmation, these seemed to alter the way the brain responds to nicotine.
Genetic data from roughly 500,000 participants in the UK Biobank was used for the research, data collected between 2006 and 2010 when the patients were aged 40 to 69. Out of this number, 50,000 were selected based on their lung health and their smoking habits.
After comparing these factors with 28 million genetic variants in each volunteer, the researchers found some parts of the human genome to be associated with a person’s lung health, in addition to the five sections of DNA linked to being a heavy smoker.
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