New treatment for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), discovered by Australian and American researchers, has breathed a new lease of life into patients suffering from smoking-related lung diseases.
The discovery that is expected slowdown the progression of COPD, a disease caused by excessive smoking, was made by scientists from University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Australia, and the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, US.
Reports published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Science journal unveil that researchers have successfully identified a protein, SAA, which is believed to play a vital role in chronic inflammation and lung damage. Researchers also blamed the protein substance for inhibiting the natural repair mechanism of lungs after quitting smoking.
Hopeful for the development of dual treatment for COPD, Professor Gary Anderson from the University of Melbourne said the discovery will not only advance the treatment of patients suffering from this chronic disease, but will also reduce the expenses that go into the treatment.
Researchers remain positive regarding the development of combined treatment for COPD, which will target SAA to switch off its function in the lung and will also add a synthetic healing agent to enhance lung healing. The clinical trials of the new treatment are expected to start within the next seven years.
The findings of the research also explained the reason behind failure of steroids in COPD treatment. Unlike asthma, steroids fail to block the production of SAA, causing inflammation in the lungs.
Explaining the significance of the discovery, Professor Anderson said the combined treatment is expected to help patients of all stages of COPD, indicating that the treatment would reduce the damage caused by smoking.
Emphasising the importance of quitting smoking, professor from the University of Melbourne said nothing can cure COPD; it can only be prevented by not smoking at all. He further added that the best deal for current smokers is to quit smoking before COPD worsens.
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