Meet the scientist behind the research: Professor Louise Wain

Female with long brown hair standing in front of green plant, alongside university and charity logo
12
April 2022

Are you interested in using your lived experience and voice to help us shape the future pulmonary fibrosis research?

Watch Professor Louise Wain's presentation recorded on Tuesday 12th April about “The Genetics of Lung Fibrosis” at the Margaret Turner Warwick Centre (MTWC) for Fibrosing Lung Disease. Click here to watch the recording.

The MTWC lecture series is primarily aimed at researchers and healthcare professionals, which means that elements of each lecture are likely to be very technical.  However, interested members of the public are welcome to attend.  Read on to find out more about what Professor Wain talked about during her MTWC lecture.

The Genetics of Lung Fibrosis

“There are many different types of pulmonary fibrosis.  Some types of pulmonary fibrosis have a known cause, for example, asbestosis is caused by the building material asbestos.   The most common form of pulmonary fibrosis is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (meaning the cause is unknown) and it seemingly strikes at random, but studies have shown that there are DNA changes that are more common in individuals who develop IPF when compared to those who don’t. We refer to these DNA changes as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (or SNPs – pronounced ‘snips’ – for short) and we can think of them as sign-posts to genes.

Genes are the DNA ‘blueprints’ for molecules (proteins) that enable cells and organs to function but when they function incorrectly, they can cause disease.  

So when we identify a SNP that is more common in people with IPF than in those without, we can see which gene it is sign-posting us to and this could tell us something about why IPF develops and, importantly, how we might be able to treat it.

In this talk, I explore the insight into IPF that genetic studies have given us so far. I describe genetic studies that compare people with IPF with those without and highlight some of the key findings. I also describe genetic studies that compare people with more severe disease with those with milder disease in order to dig deeper into the biological mechanisms of IPF. I discuss some of the challenges and limitations of these studies and how we can better harness the potential of these studies to make a real difference for people living with IPF.”

Professor Wain’s Biography

“I am a Professor of Respiratory Research, funded by Asthma + Lung UK, at the University of Leicester.  My research aims are to understand the genetic factors that contribute to risk of developing respiratory disease and I do this using advanced computing and statistics to interrogate very large datasets of genetic and clinical data. My main areas of focus are Interstitial Lung Disease, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Identifying the differences in genetics which lead to an increased risk of disease and disease progression will improve our understanding and guide us to develop new treatments.”

You may also be interested in:

Dr Richard Allen’s live webinar recording  – Does DNA hold the key to understanding pulmonary fibrosis.  

Dr Richard Allen answers your questions about genetics research in pulmonary fibrosis.

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