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sector_ico_Health_trans Human Health

Integration of environmental and genomic risk factors to predict fibrotic interstitial lung disease progression

  • Project Leaders: Christopher Ryerson, Tillie-Louise Hackett
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $250000
  • Program/Competition: Data Access, Integration and Analysis Program
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome British Columbia
  • Fiscal Year: 2022
  • Status: Active

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a serious health condition that results in lung scarring, breathing difficulties and a severely shortened lifespan. Air pollution is associated with IPF development and progression, but we do not understand why.

This project aims to answer this question by looking at the molecular and structural changes that occur in the lungs of patients with IPF following exposure to air pollution. Using satellite-derived air pollution data and de-identified patient clinical information through the Integrated Health Informatics Datalab (IHID), the project team will determine if certain genes in patients with IPF are responsible for worse clinical outcomes when these individuals are exposed to more air pollution.

Next, researchers will examine how air pollution turns certain genes on or off in patients with IPF, through a process called DNA methylation. Lastly, the team will use high-resolution imaging tools to understand how the structure of the lungs changes in response to air pollution in patients with IPF.

This research will help us understand how air pollution contributes to progressive lung scarring in patients with IPF and may identify new targets for therapies to reverse lung scarring. This work will also inform environmental health policies aimed at protecting vulnerable populations, including patients with IPF and other chronic lung diseases.