Not everyone who smokes will get chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), though smoking is the leading cause of this crippling disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2007 and 2009, more than 5% of adults in the U.S. (around 12 million people) had COPD. It is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., and there is no treatment other than oxygen therapy, no cure, and no biomarkers. It's hoped that a push to find biomarkers, funded by a multimillion-dollar National Institutes of Health grant, could find markers that will tag those most at risk.
The researchers, based at Weill Cornell Medical College, will use the money, from the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, to support a 5-year investigation into the changes in the cells lining the lungs of smokers with COPD, using metabolomics combined with comparisons of tissue and other samples from nonsmokers, smokers, COPD smokers and smokers with and without COPD who underwent smoking cessation. Finding the people most at risk of COPD could help target support to stop smoking and enable earlier treatment for any damage that has already occurred, as well as provide pointers for routes to new treatments.
- read the press release