Study reveals new associations with lung disease and smoking behaviour

Posted by egg3 at Sep 28, 2015 10:41 AM |
Professor Martin Tobin co-leads first UK Biobank genetic study in order to investigate how genetics affect likelihood of a person smoking

Smokers who survive their habit into old age may hold the key to better lung health for all, according to a study involving co-led by Professor Martin Tobin (pictured) from the Department of Health Sciences and funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC). 

For the first time, in a study published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine, UK researchers have identified genetic differences which affect the likelihood of whether or not a person will smoke, and the predisposition of both heavy smokers and non-smokers to suffer from poor lung health.

The new findings, which used the first analyses of genetic data from participants in UK Biobank, may one day help scientists develop better treatments for diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a collection of life-threatening lung disorders affecting almost one million people in the UK. The findings could also help improve interventions aimed at helping smokers to give up.

The discoveries help to explain why some people can have relatively good lung health, despite smoking, and why some can suffer from lung conditions even if they have never smoked before. Knowing why they are more likely to develop lung disease or to become heavy smokers is important for developing treatments for these diseases and for helping smokers to quit.

Professor Martin Tobin said: “Smoking is the biggest lifestyle risk factor for COPD. Many, but not all, smokers develop the disease.  Genetics play a big part, as they do in smoking behaviour. Our research helps to tell us why, paving the way for improved prevention and treatment. Stopping smoking is the best way to prevent smoking-related diseases such as COPD, cancers and heart disease.”

The study was conducted by the UK BiLEVE - UK Lung Exome Variant Evaluation team of researchers.

A video of Professor Tobin's research is available below:

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