Researchers at Nippon Medical School in Japan and the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute have located a protein that may be involved with exacerbation of COPD. The protein identified is Siglec-14, which is a glycan-recognition protein that not everyone possesses. The study shows that those individuals who do not possess this protein are less likely to be susceptible to the symptoms becoming worse, which is referred to as exacerbation. The Siglec-14 protein is created by immune cells that are attached to bacteria that will usually trigger exacerbation. In Japan, researchers found that about one out of four people are unable to create this protein.
As part of this one-year study, researchers analyzed the relationship of the Siglec-14 gene and the frequency of exacerbation with 135 COPD patients. They discovered that 31 patients who did not possess the gene suffered far less exacerbation episodes on average, compared to the 104 patients that do have the gene. These new findings suggest that patients who suffer from COPD could possibly be stratified depending on the gene, which can result in a more effective and efficient treatment.
The researchers involved in this study have also implied that a compound that can block certain inflammatory reactions triggered by the protein may be used to treat or prevent the progression of COPD. Since there are currently no known cures or procedures to reverse the damage caused by COPD, these new findings are an important step towards treating and slowing down the progression of the disease.