Skip to comments.Gene variant may help against emphysema, asthma
Posted on 12/31/2009 8:28:28 PM PST by neverdem
Uncommon version seems to lessen risk of lung disease in smokers
People who carry a variant form of a gene that encodes a protein called MMP-12 are in luck. This uncommon form of the gene appears to provide some protection against emphysema and asthma, researchers report online December 16 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In the study, an international team of researchers analyzed data on lung function and genetics from seven studies that included more than 5,000 people and found that 7 to 13 percent of people harbored the beneficial variant of MMP-12.
In four of the studies, the scientists found that tobacco smokers carrying the helpful form of the protein were one-third less likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than other smokers. COPD includes emphysema and chronic obstructive bronchitis and is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease, cancer and stroke.
In the three other studies, children with asthma who also had the MMP12 variant had substantially milder disease than their asthmatic counterparts without the gene variant.
The MMPs, short for matrix metalloproteinases, make up a family of proteins with many duties in the body. In the lungs, MMP-12 protein is made by immune cells and has been implicated in emphysema because it can degrade connective tissues such as elastin, which gives lungs elasticity.
Smoke inhalation brings on rampant inflammation thats incited by an immune reaction to chemicals in the smoke. This can result in higher than normal MMP-12 production by cells in the lung and excess breakdown of elastin, which in turn may reduce the lungs flexibility.
Making less MMP-12 might be better for people with either disease. For example, past research in mice exposed to cigarette smoke found that animals lacking MMP-12 were protected against emphysema...
(Excerpt) Read more at sciencenews.org ...
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What I want to know is have they worked out all the details of the viral-vector technologies that can be used to fix these kinds of things?
Interesting to think that in the far off future, scientists might be able to determine our level of tech by when and where these new gene segments started appearing in the cells. (even though they won’t “officially” be part of the genome!!)
Science is cool. But from a mathematical and physical standpoint, it will never be able to figure out everything!
3 mins till NY on the east coast! Happy New Year Freepers!!