Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic ancestry data improve diagnosis in asthma and lung disease

Date:
July 8, 2010
Source:
University of California - San Francisco
Summary:
Americans with lung disease may face a far greater level of lung damage than either they or their doctor suspect, depending on their individual genetic heritage, according to a new study. The research implications range from diagnosing the severity of asthma, to disability decisions or eligibility for lung transplants, researchers say.

Americans with lung disease may face a far greater level of lung damage than either they or their doctor suspect, depending on their individual genetic heritage, according to a study to be released July 7. The research implications range from diagnosing the severity of asthma, to disability decisions or eligibility for lung transplants, researchers say.

In the largest study of its kind to date, spanning a dozen research centers and pooling data on more than 3,000 patients, a team of researchers led by UCSF and Northwestern University found that patients' precise genetic background told far more about their potential lung function -- and therefore any damage that has occurred -- than the self-identified racial profile commonly used in such tests.

The results point to a more precise method of assessing patients' lung function, as well as the potential impact of using precise genetic benchmarks for assessing health overall, researchers say. Findings will appear in the July 22 print edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Lung function is one of many medical assessments that use standard benchmarks, such as age, sex and race, to determine the normal expected range for an individual patient. Similar criteria also are used in assessing kidney function or the risk for some cancers. In patients with lung disease, those benchmarks help physicians assess the severity of damage represented by a patient's lung function test and are often used to determine whether patients have severe asthma, or whether they may be eligible for disability insurance or a lung transplant.

Standard race categories, however, don't capture the extent of our ancestral diversity, according to the paper's senior author, Esteban G. Burchard, MD, MPH, who is director of the UCSF Center for Genes, Environment and Health, and a member of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, a joint department between the UCSF schools of medicine and pharmacy.

"People throughout the world have a richer genetic heritage than can be captured by our current definitions of race," Burchard said, noting that almost every continent has large populations that are known to be genetically mixed. "When we force patients into an individual box, such as 'African-American' or 'Caucasian', we're missing a lot of genetic information."

While this study focused on patients who define themselves as African-Americans, the participants' actual genetic ancestry ranged broadly and included Caucasian and African heritage.

"Since genetic ancestry improves our definition of normal lung function, it may be relevant for determining the severity of all lung diseases, as it was for asthma in this study," adds Rajesh Kumar, MD, an attending physician at Children's Memorial Hospital, associate professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the lead and corresponding author on the paper. "Taking genetic ancestry into account could result in more appropriate treatment for patients."

The study used recently developed genetic tools to estimate individual genetic ancestry and found a significant association between ancestry and lung function. Advances in technology have reduced the cost of those tools significantly, according to the researchers. As a result, this could be a viable method of dramatically improving patient care at relatively low cost.

The researchers used five large-scale, independent health studies with self-identified African American populations, ranging in age from 18 to 93 years, to examine the impact of genetic ancestry on measures of lung function.

The team found a significant link between African ancestry and pulmonary measurement in both men and women across all ages.

"This study provides new evidence that genetic ancestry correlates to physiologic measures," added Burchard. "With it, we're one step closer to personalized medicine."

The authors acknowledge some important limitations with the study. For example, the association between lung function and ancestry could be influenced by factors other than genetics, such as social and environmental exposures.

The paper had four co-first authors. In addition to Kumar, they include Melinda Aldrich, PhD, MPH, with the UCSF Department of Medicine, San Francisco; Max A. Seibold, PhD, with National Jewish Health, Denver; and L. Keoki Williams, MD, MPH, with the Center for Health Services Research and the Department of Internal Medicine, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit.

Co-authors from Northwestern include Kiang Liu, PhD; Lewis Smith, MD, and Laura Colangelo. Alex Reiner, MD, was a coauthor from the University of Washington, School of Public Health. UCSF co-authors include Joshua Galanter, MD; Chris Gignoux; Donglei Hu, PhD; Shweta Choudhry, PhD; Saunak Sen, PhD; and Elad Ziv, MD. Also from Henry Ford is Edward Peterson, PhD. Paul Enright, MD, was a co-author from the University of Arizona.

The research was funded in part by several institutes within the National Institutes of Health, including the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; the National Institute on Aging; and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Further support was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institutes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Francisco. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kumar et al. Genetic Ancestry in Lung-Function Predictions. New England Journal of Medicine, 2010; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa0907897

Cite This Page:

University of California - San Francisco. "Genetic ancestry data improve diagnosis in asthma and lung disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100707180926.htm>.
University of California - San Francisco. (2010, July 8). Genetic ancestry data improve diagnosis in asthma and lung disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100707180926.htm
University of California - San Francisco. "Genetic ancestry data improve diagnosis in asthma and lung disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100707180926.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins