Finding it hard to quit cigarettes? Fret not, for researchers are close to developing a pill which they claim could mitigate some of the negative health effects of smoking.
According to a report in the ‘New Scientist’, a team at Boston University School of Medicine has already identified 28 molecules known as microRNAs, that are produced in abnormal amounts in cells lining the airways of smokers.
And, if the levels of these molecules could be restored to that of non-smokers it might allow chronic smokers to improve their health prospects as well as enable people to puff without any significant damage to their health.
“These microRNAs serve to regulate the gene expression changes occurring in people who smoke and who get smoking related diseases, including cancer,” lead researcher Avrum Spira was quoted as saying.
In fact, in their study involving ten smokers and ten non-smokers, the researchers have found one of the microRNAs, called mir-218, controls a group of genes that usually protect lung and airway cells from oxidative damage caused by smoke.
“We think the level of activity of mir-218 is crucial in how a smoker defends his or herself against any injury and potential development of lung disease,” Spira said.
And, giving supplements of mir-218 to smokers, or developing a drug that restores levels of disrupted microRNAs to normal could help mitigate some of the damaging effects of smoking, the researchers believe.
“We might be able to alter the host’s response to tobacco smoke so that it is a protective one,” Spira said.
The findings of the study have been published in the latest edition of the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Science’ journal.