[Skip to content]

Swallow Logo
Leicester Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit
NHS National Institute for Health Research
  • Home
  • About Us
  • Our Research
  • Our Labs
  • Public
  • News & Events
  • Contact Us
You are here:   Home  »  Our Research  »  Genetics


What is genetics?

The DNA in our cells is made up of three billion pairs of just four types of chemical bases: known as A, C, G and T. Genetic variation means that, where one person might have an A at a certain place in the DNA sequence, another person might have a G.

Genetic variation is one of the major reasons why people are at different risk of developing lung diseases. It is also one of the key reasons why patients can show differences in response to treatments.


How will genetic research benefit patients?

The DNA has the code to make a protein. Proteins do the jobs in cells. The drugs we use to treat diseases target particular proteins in the body, but developing new drugs is difficult, time-consuming and costly. Genetic studies show which proteins are important in disease – information which is crucial to more effective drug development.


In time we hope that genetic information will also help us to more accurately diagnose disease and better predict which medicine, and dose, might be right for a particular patient.


What genetic research is taking place in Leicester Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit?

Research we have completed has discovered 21 regions of the human genome associated with lung function. Many of these variants have now been shown to be associated with COPD.

To view the video of Professor Martin Tobin explaining his research into the genetics of lung health and lung disease, please visit this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pc8oWAzi1FI%20%20%20


In ongoing research in the BRU, we are studying common and rare DNA variation which affects lung function and the risk of COPD . These studies involve many collaborators in the UK and internationally (the SpiroMeta consortium ). In the UK BiLEVE consortium we are studying the lung health of approximately 500,000 people in UK Biobank, 50,000 of whom will have detailed genetic assays . These large studies tell us which genetic variants are important. Detailed studies in patients are needed to tell us how the relevant genetic variants, and the proteins they code for, exert their effect on disease. This is an essential step in translating this new knowledge into improved treatments and is a major focus of Leicester’s Respiratory BRU.