08:05am Monday 14 October 2019

International Study Reveals the Genetic Basis of Lung Function

International Study Reveals the Genetic Basis of Lung Function

Prof. Dr. Holger Schulz (links), Dr. Joachim Heinrich

The study, published jointly by the SpiroMeta and CHARGE consortia in the September 25th issue of Nature Genetics, represents a breakthrough in understanding lung function and lung health. It points the way to new approaches for the prevention and treatment of lung diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as it provides new insights into the molecular mechanisms of the development of common lung diseases. The epidemiological meta-analysis, which is the largest to date, has allowed the identification of 16 common genetic variants with direct impact on selected  lung function parameters. Each of the more than 48 000 individuals in the study sample were analyzed for 2.5 million genetic variants. Then potentially new loci were verified in follow-up studies of independent cohorts comprising more than 46 000 individuals. From the findings of this meta-analysis, the scientists hope to elucidate the causal mechanisms of lung disease and develop concrete approaches for therapy and prevention.

175 researchers from126 scientific institutions in Europe, the U.S. and Australia are involved in the SpiroMeta and CHARGE consortia. The participating institutions include the Institutes of Epidemiology, Genetic Epidemiology, Molecular Epidemiology and Lung Biology of Helmholtz Zentrum München. The scientists of Helmholtz Zentrum München provided data from the KORA study. “The thorough characterization of the KORA participants makes this study a vital source of information for large-scale epidemiological studies” said Dr. Joachim Heinrich of the Institute of Epidemiology of Helmholtz Zentrum München. “From the huge pool of health-related data, the present study draws especially upon lung function data”. 

This hitherto largest epidemiological study on lung function was coordinated by the University of Leicester and the University of Nottingham in the U.K. and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in the U.S.

Lung diseases like COPD and asthma are among the leading causes of death worldwide. Currently, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood, and there is still no cure for these diseases. Helmholtz Zentrum München explores new approaches to the diagnosis, therapy and prevention of common widespread diseases and is a partner of the German Center for Lung Research (DZL).

Further information

Original publication:
Artigas, M. S. (2011): Genome-wide association and large-scale follow up identifies 16 new loci influencing lung function. Nature Genetics, doi 10.1038/ng.941

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the diagnosis, therapy and prevention of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 1,900 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 17 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 31,000 staff members. www.helmholtz-muenchen.de

KORA (Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg) has been investigating the health of thousands of individuals from the region of Augsburg for more than 20 years. The goal is to understand the impact of environmental factors, behavior and genes. Key research topics of KORA are the etiology and course of chronic diseases, especially myocardial infarction and diabetes mellitus. For this purpose, lifestyle risk factors (e.g. smoking, nutrition, exercise), environmental factors (e.g. air pollution, noise) and genetics are studied. From the perspective of health care research, the utilization and costs of health care are examined. www.helmholtz-muenchen.de/kora


Contact for media representatives

Sven Winkler, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH), Ingolstädter Landstraße 1 85764 Neuherberg – Phone.: 089-3187-3946 – Fax: 089-3187-3324 – email: presse@helmholtz-muenchen.de

Scientific contact

Prof. Dr. Holger Schulz, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH),Institute of Epidemiology I, Ingolstädter Landstraße 1 85764 Neuherberg, Phone: 089 3187-4119, email: schulz@helmholtz-muenchen.de

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