A novel genetic variant that appears to play a vital role in preserving the lung function and lowering the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been identified by scientists.
The research team found that DNA single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP, was associated with better preserved lung function among children with asthma and in former or current smokers
The study showed that adult patients with this SNP had a 35 percent reduction in the risk of onset of COPD.
During the study, the researchers examined the genes and the breathing capacity of more than 8,300 child and adult participants from seven different studies, including the NHLBI-funded Childhood Asthma Management Program and National Emphysema Treatment Trial.
They found a link between a SNP in MMP12, a gene that encodes matrix metalloproteinase 12, and better preserved lung function among both children with asthma and adults who are former or current smokers.
The new study supports the theory that asthma and COPD may share some common mechanisms, even though the two diseases affect patients differently.
It is published online by The New England Journal of Medicine.