Scientists at Stony Brook University have discovered that a specific gene may underlie the development of COPD.

Medical scientists at Stony Brook University have discovered that a gene initially thought only to suppress tumor growth appears to underlie the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — COPD.

COPD rates have risen globally in recent decades mostly because of smoking, industrial exposures, and living in polluted urban areas. But Stony Brook scientists are positing that certain biological conditions may increase vulnerability.

While conducting cancer research, Dr Ute Moll of Stony Brook’s School of Medicine discovered that when the tumor-suppressor gene called p73 was missing in mice, the fine hairlike cells of the respiratory tract no longer functioned properly.

Moll believes that an absence of p73 in people increases the vulnerability to COPD and possibly other respiratory conditions, such as serious lung infections and asthma.

Photo Credit: SBU Communications / John Griffin

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