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: High-dose flu vaccine appears better for frail older adults in long-term care

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

New hope for rare disease drug development

5 hours ago

Using combinations of well-known approved drugs has for the first time been shown to be potentially safe in treating a rare disease, according to the results of a clinical trial published in the open access Orphanet Journal of ...

Three weeks since last Ebola case in Mali: WHO

8 hours ago

Mali has not had a case of Ebola for three weeks, the World Health Organization said Wednesday, completing one of the two incubation periods the country needs to be declared free of the virus.

Migraine may double risk for facial paralysis

8 hours ago

Migraine headache may double the risk of a nervous system condition that causes facial paralysis, called Bell's palsy, according to a new study published in the December 17, 2014, online issue of Neurology, the medical journa ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.