NIHA new study by experts from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which is part of the National Institutes of Health claims to have uncovered evidence suggesting a genetic variant to be possibly associated with lung function and COPD risk. The analysis seems to reveal that the genetic variant may be linked with better preserved lung function in children with asthma and adults who smoke.

In adults who smoke, the findings further appeared to show a link between the genetic variant and a decreased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A lung disease apparently most common among smokers, COPD is known to increase the difficulty of breathing.

The team seems to have discovered that a DNA single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP appears to be linked with better preserved lung function. They supposedly found this to be true among children with asthma and in former or current smokers. In addition to this, the study also appears to have found a reduced risk of developing COPD in adults who smoke.

Often varying among individuals, SNP is considered to be a single base pair in the DNA. A 35 percent lowered risk in the onset of COPd was observed in adult patients with this SNP.

As part of the analysis, the experts closely investigated the genes and the breathing capacity of over 8,300 child and adult participants from seven different studies. This included the NHLBI-funded Childhood Asthma Management Program and National Emphysema Treatment Trial. With the help of data from all seven studies, the scientists claim to have discovered a link between a SNP in MMP12 and improved preservation of lung function among children and adults.

MMP12 is supposedly a gene that encodes matrix metalloproteinase 12. It appears to be produced by inflammatory cells called macrophages that may be found in the lung. A reduced risk of developing COPD was also seen for the same SNP. According to experts, the findings of the study seem to support the theory that asthma and COPD could have common mechanisms. This could be even though the two diseases appear to affect patients in a different way.

The study is published online by The New England Journal of Medicine.