Lung diseases, which could become the third most common cause of death in the world within a few years, are the topic of a major conference of European experts that opened in Vienna Sunday.
Some 20,000 researchers and medical experts are due to take part in the European Respiratory Society's (ERS) annual congress in the Austrian capital, which runs until Wednesday.
High on the agenda of the sessions is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a potentially deadly condition where the airways narrow that, unlike asthma, is generally irreversible and often worsens with time.
According to the World Health Organisation, some 210 million people currently have COPD, while three million died of the disease in 2005. By 2030, it will become the third leading cause of death worldwide, according to WHO estimates.
Participants at the ERS congress are also due to discuss better treatments and new ways of diagnosing lung diseases, including a so-called electronic nose which could help detect lung cancer, experts said at the opening press conference.
Other topics of discussion will include the current spread of swine flu and well-known conditions like asthma and tuberculosis.