FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (Oct. 18, 2006) -- Recent advances in computer and imaging technology allow the scanning of tens of thousands of genes and proteins in little more than a blink of an eye. This high speed technology has already produced advances in the understanding of disease, including lung disease, and the already blistering pace is picking up.
To take stock of this quickly changing field, scientists and doctors will gather at The American Physiological Society meeting, "Physiological genomics and proteomics of lung disease," to be held Nov. 2-5 in Fort Lauderdale.
"Up until a few years ago, we investigated one protein, one gene, at a time," said Bruce R. Pitt, of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, and a member of the conference organizing committee. "Now we have more robust gene profiling techniques, better apparatus and better means of statistical analysis," said Brooke T. Mossman, of the University of Vermont College of Medicine, another member of the conference organizing committee.
Lung diseases not well understood
Lung diseases are among the most common and recognizable to the public: asthma, emphysema, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis and pulmonary fibrosis, to name a few. But the lung is a very complicated organ and these diseases are not well understood, Pitt said. One puzzle has been why, when different people are exposed to toxic agents like asbestos or cigarette smoke, some develop disease and others don't.
"Environmental agents such as asbestos cause disease, but there is also a genetic susceptibility," Mossman explained. Because individuals react differently to the same exposure, progress in the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases has been slowed. If researchers can find the genes that make some people susceptible, it will greatly enhance progress toward early detection, treatment and a cure, she said.