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American Thoracic Society news tips for April

American Thoracic Society

ETHNIC DIFFERENCES IN PULMONARY FUNCTION
Using a study population of 80 young, healthy, non-smoking volunteers, researchers found true physiologic differences in lung function test results between Asian American and European American ethnic groups. They report that spirometry test results for Asian Americans were approximately 7 percent less than test results of European Americans. The differences, found in both men and women, are significant because most predicted values for pulmonary function tests are based on measurements of populations of European descent. The researchers urge that these physiologic differences be considered when interpreting pulmonary function tests. The research appears in the April issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

MOLECULAR AND GENETIC ASPECTS OF LUNG CANCER
In a state-of-the-art article on the molecular and genetic aspects of lung cancer in the April issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, a five-person expert panel notes that treatment strategies to cure lung cancer should focus on early genetic lesions in order to either enhance their repair or establish a pathway to eliminate wayward cells. Because lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer among men and women in the United States, the panel believes that gene therapy offers an exciting prospect for treatment and a potential cure for the disease when genes can be successfully introduced into cancer cells to correct genetic lesions. They stress that "delivery" systems, utilizing viruses, are now being investigated in experimental systems as research progresses in the rapidly advancing field.

LUNG CHANGES DUE TO SMOKING AND AGING
Over a period of five years, Japanese researchers used high resolution computed tomography (HRCT) annually to detect structural abnormalities in the lung caused by smoking and aging. Working with 55 males and 28 females, average age 59, they used pulmonary function tests,along with the HRCT. They made the following conclusions: (1) aging increases airspace abnormalities mainly in the lower lung; (2) continuous smoking worsens airspace abnormalities,mostly in the upper portion of the lung; and (3) HRCT images taken after the patient breathes in are superior to expiratory images, in helping to estimate, over time, the lung structural abnormalities caused by aging and smoking. The research appears in the April issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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For the complete text of these articles or to contact the investigators, please see the ATS Journal Online Website at http://www.atsjournals.org. To request a complimentary journalist subscription to ATS Journals Online, or if you would like to add your name to the ATS monthly mailing list, please contact Lori Atkins at 212-315-6442, by fax at 212-315-6455, or by E-mail at latkins@thoracic.org.

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