Genetic Epidemiological Approaches to the Study of Lung Disease


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Abstract

The DNA sequence data provided by the Human Genome Project offer great promise in the prevention and treatment of lung disease in the new millennium. Making sense of these data with regard to how they relate to disease susceptibility and progression will require new and innovative genetic epidemiological approaches. Although tried and true methodologies such as case-control comparisons are still useful, a better understanding of genotype-phenotype relationships in lung disease can be gained by comparisons across similar diseases, such as the HLA-DPB1 associations observed in both berylliosis and sarcoidosis. Study of gene-environment and gene-gene interactions in lung disease is critical to the understanding of pathogenic processes in the lung such as localized inflammation and malignant transformation. Oligonucleotide microarray studies of gene expression in the lung are well under way and promise to uncover numerous previously unknown genetic factors involved in lung pathogenesis. One of the greatest challenges facing genetic epidemiologists studying lung disease in the new millennium will be how to translate the myriad results from microarray and similar data-driven technologies into information useful to the medicine practiced in pulmonary clinics.

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