Researchers from the Alpha One Foundation, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Harvard University have made a major breakthrough in identifying people who have an increased risk of developing COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) due to a combination of 1 copy of the Z Alpha-1 gene (MZ carriers) and exposure to cigarette smoke.

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The Irish Times, the Irish Examiner, the RTE website, the Evening Herald and several other newspapers have this week (January 13th) reported a new discovery by scientists based at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and Beaumont Hospital.  These scientists have discovered how a protein, known as alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT), which is produced by the liver, plays a significant role in reducing inflammation from white blood cells and its overall importance for good health.

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Irish scientists based at Beaumont Hospital have been involved in a multicentre study to determine the first ever international standard for alpha-1 antitrypsin. This study will make it easier for research groups and pharmaceutical companies to assess the activity and potency of different preparations of alpha-1 antitrypsin being used as a therapeutic agent.

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A new study which was presented at the Irish Thoracic Society annual scientific meeting for 2008 held in Belfast in November highlighted the high prevalence of Alpha-1 in Ireland.

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