Why Your Genes Could Determine Your Lung Health

You don’t have to be a geneticist to know about the importance of genes. All of your physical characteristics – from eye color to hair color to height – are all determined by your genetic profile. According to a new study, your genes might also indicate your personal risk of poor lung health. 

Different Groups, Different Outcomes

Released in early 2017, this study was led by researchers from the University of Leicester and University of Nottingham, and featured contributors from 14 countries. With so many resources at their disposal, the team was able to document the effects of 24 genetic differences observed in humans. These differences are commonly referred to as genetic variants. 

Thanks to this information, the study authors were able to group their participants based on their risk of COPD, a common chronic lung condition. They found that the most at-risk group was nearly four times more likely to develop COPD than those with the lowest risk level. 

There was also bad news for smokers; for every 100 smokers in the highest risk genetic group, the study found that 72 would be diagnosed with COPD at some point in their lives. 

Identifying Risk

Because of this team’s work, the number of genetic variants connected to both COPD and lung cancer grew significantly, doubling from its previous number. The authors contend that their work could provide medical professionals with a better understanding of COPD, potentially leading to better treatments for this disease. “”Our findings point to proteins that will help guide the development of new drugs and to proteins that are targets for drugs already tested for different diseases. This indicates that repurposing drugs already tested for different diseases could be one way to improve treatments for COPD,” stated Professor Martin Tobin, one of the study’s co-author

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