A study that scientists claim is the largest and most diverse of its kind could pave the way for new potential treatments for lung diseases.
The global study, led by the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham, linked more than 500 new genes to lung function for the first time.
The study analyzed genomic data from 580,869 participants worldwide.
Scientists said it provides the best picture yet of how our genes affect our lung health.
The study, led by the University of Leicester and the University of Nottingham, identified 559 new genes involved in lung function.
Those behind it said it was a huge boost for scientists as they tried to understand which drugs might help improve lung health and which drugs might make lung health worse.
“One Big Leap”
They said the results could pave the way for potential new treatments to fight conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, and highlight existing drugs that could potentially be quickly reused.
Chronic respiratory diseases such as COPD are the third leading cause of death worldwide.
The study’s lead investigator, Prof Martin Tobin, from the University of Leicester’s Department of Population Health Sciences, said: “This is a major leap in terms of the size and ethnic diversity of the population that we have previously been able to study and it is a major step in the number of associated genetic variants that we have discovered.
“Our genetic research results can be used to generate individual risk scores that could personalize medicine.
‘At this stage, the risk scores we developed are important tools for further research, but in the future they could help select which drugs might be most effective for individual patients and which drugs should be avoided.’
The study combined genomic information from multiple research studies worldwide.
The University of Nottingham leader, Prof Ian Hall, said: “Involving people from all backgrounds in genetics research is important to ensure that all groups of people benefit from the advances in prevention and treatment that such research can bring .
“Currently, the majority of people in genetic studies have a white background.
“Going forward, we desperately need more studies in different ethnic groups to provide the necessary sample sizes to really advance the field.”
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