New potential to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Jan 27, 2010

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is defined by emphysema and/or chronic bronchitis. It destroys the normal architecture of the lung and inhibits the mechanical aspects of breathing, which prevents necessary gas exchange. Patients suffer from coughing fits, wheezing, and increased incidence of lung infections. These symptoms are associated with changes in the architecture of the lung. The air sacs, which usually inflate with air during breathing as they loose their elasticity, becoming rigid and unable to inflate. The lung becomes inflamed and increases its mucus production, which further inhibits gas exchange, and prevents the patient's ability to be physically active.

Although COPD is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, there is currently no cure for the disease. Providing patients with concentrated oxygen therapy and instruction on breathing techniques increases survival rates.

In a new study published in Disease Models & Mechanisms (DMM), dmm.biologists.org, collaborative findings by European researchers demonstrate that an antioxidant , sestrin, triggers molecular pathways that induce some of the critical changes associated with COPD. By genetically inactivating this protein, they were able to improve the elastic features of the lung in a mouse model of . These authors believe that by inhibiting the antioxidant sestrin protein, they prevent the accelerated degradation of elastic fibers within the lung. This suggests that patients with COPD could benefit from treatment with drugs that block sestrin function.

Although sestrin is an antioxidant protein, the authors found that this characteristic of the protein is not likely to influence its effects on COPD progression in the lung. The negative effects of sestrin on lung elasticity results from its suppression of genes whose products maintain elastin. Elastin makes the lung flexible so that it can expand and contract. Without elastin fibers, the lung becomes rigid and increasingly unable to provide for gas exchange.

Explore further: Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

COPD? Eat your veggies

Sep 12, 2008

You know it's good for you in other ways, but could eating your broccoli also help patients with chronic lung disease? It just might.

Genetic variant may control lung function and risk of COPD

Dec 17, 2009

Researchers have discovered evidence that suggests a genetic variant may be associated with better preserved lung function among children with asthma and adults who smoke, according to a new study funded by the National Heart, ...

Recommended for you

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

1 hour ago

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

Apr 18, 2014

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

Apr 18, 2014

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

Apr 18, 2014

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

New clues on tissue scarring in scleroderma

Apr 18, 2014

A discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists could lead to potential new treatments for breaking the cycle of tissue scarring in people with scleroderma.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.