Scientists don't know all of the reasons why some people are more susceptible to lung disease than others - something that the EU-funded ALEC project is seeking to find out. The results could be an important step towards better prevention and treatments for patients.
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Chronic obstructive respiratory disease (COPD) is a condition that develops over time. Patients’ lungs may be inflamed or damaged and the airways may be constricted. In severe cases, patients may die. Up to 300 000 Europeans lose their lives each year from the disease, according to the European Lung Foundation.
Smoking is the main cause of COPD, but other lifestyle, behavioural, occupational, nutritional and environmental factors, from very early on in life through to adulthood, are now believed to play a role. Genetics may also be a factor.
ALEC aims to find out the impact of these additional factors by analysing existing studies tracking respiratory health in over 25 000 European children and adults from the early 1990s to the present day.
The research could advance scientific understanding of the combined effects of factors causing poor lung function, respiratory disability and the development of COPD. The researchers’ goal is to provide scientific evidence that could lead to the new strategies to prevent COPD and guide the design of targeted treatments for those with the disease.
Once ALEC has identified the risk factors for CODP, the team plans to develop a predictive risk score. By the end of the project in May 2019, the researchers plan to have ready an online interactive tool which can be used by anyone to determine their level of risk of getting CODP.