According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers may have discovered a new biomarker for chronic bronchitis involving total airway mucin concentrations, MedPage Today reports.

Researchers tested the hypothesis that mucin concentrations are a biochemical hallmark of the pathogenesis of chronic bronchitis in an extensively phenotyped cohort of the SPIROMICS study.

Results of their study suggest that airway mucin concentrations, “describe a potential disease-causing, chronic-bronchitis pathway that is associated with sputum production and disease severity.”

“If replicated, our results suggest that airway mucin concentrations may serve as a biomarker for the confirmation of the diagnosis of chronic bronchitis and the development of therapeutics for the disorder,” wrote researcher Mehmet Kesimer, PhD, of the University of North Carolina Cystic Fibrosis Center, Chapel Hill, and colleagues.