Lung microbes could help predict outcomes in the seriously ill
Some mutations are harmless and occur as a natural part of aging. These are referred to as “passenger mutations.” However, some mutations “dramatically change the behavior of the cells and instruct them to behave more like cancer,” Campbell told the news agency AFP. “If enough of these ‘driver mutations’ accumulate, then the cell will become full-blown cancer.”
Campbell and the team found that, among the lung biopsies taken from people who smoked, 90% of the cells had cancer-driving mutations.
These can be thought of as mini time bombs, waiting for the next hit that causes them to progress to cancer," Kate Gowers.
However, a small proportion of the cells had escaped the tobacco damage and were still healthy.
Among former smokers who had given up, these healthy cells had proliferated and replaced the mutated cells.
Furthermore, as much as 40% of cells in the lungs of people who had stopped smoking were healthy, compared with one-quarter of that amount among individuals who had not yet stopped smoking. "We were unprepared for the finding”
"We were unprepared for the finding. There is a population of cells that, kind of, magically replenish the lining of the airways,” Campbell told the BBC News: “One of the remarkable things was patients who had quit, even after 40 years of smoking, had regeneration of cells that were unscathed by the exposure to tobacco."
Campbell says what researchers need to do now is locate the pool of healthy lung cells and find out exactly how they replace the damaged cells.
“If we can work out where they normally live and what makes them expand when someone stops smoking, perhaps we have opportunities to make them even more effective at repair,” he concludes. Sources:
BBC News. (2020). Lungs 'magically' heal damage from smoking. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51279355 [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].
the Guardian. (2020). Lungs damaged by smoking can heal – study. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jan/30/lungs-damaged-by-smoking-can-magically-heal-study [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020]. Journal reference:
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