Marike Boezen, professor of Epidemiology at the UMCG, has been awarded an € 845,000 consortium grant by the Lung Foundation Netherlands to conduct genetic research on what causes COPD in non-smokers. COPD is a common lung disease that strongly affects patients’ quality of life. Boezen will conduct her study in collaboration with the department of Genetic Epidemiology of Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Although smoking is generally considered to be an important cause of COPD, 25-45% of COPD patients have in fact never smoked. They have probably been exposed to other substances, for example due to passive smoking, serious air pollution or gas emissions at work. Hereditary disposition is also a likely factor in developing COPD, but this has thus far never been studied.
Boezen will use data from LifeLines, a long-term study collecting information on health, sickness and lifestyle from 165,000 people in the northern Netherlands. Her study involving 22,500 people aims to reveal the role of genes and various types of exposure in the development in COPD, or whether such exposure leads to genetic changes that in turn cause COPD. She would also like to find out which people are particularly sensitive to such exposure.
Early identification of people with an increased risk of developing COPD should result in targeted interventions and may in the long run help decrease the number of COPD patients.
The study will run from October 2013 until October 2016.
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