A Brigham Young University researcher has found that telomeres may be an indicator of a greater chance for developing specific conditions, including lung disease.
“When we are born, our telomeres are longer. As you get older, they shorten,” said Jonathan Alder, an assistant professor of physiology and developmental biology at BYU. “What we have found is that if you look at individuals with lung disease, they have shorter telomeres than the rest of us.”
Alder is currently studying the gene mutations that cause people to have unnaturally short telomeres. Recent research he coauthored with collaborators at Johns Hopkins University, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and Chest, finds those mutations are connected to both pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema.