Researchers studying mice exposed to cigarette smoke demonstrated that a drug that activates a key component of the lung's antioxidant defense system, nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2–related factor 2 (Nrf2), helped prevent lung damage and some types of heart damage (Sussan TE et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009;106: 250-255).
The investigative team, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, exposed mice with and without Nrf2 to cigarette smoke to determine if activation of Nrf2 could prevent emphysema. Half of each group received CDDO-Im, a small molecule that can activate Nrf2. The mice with Nrf2 that received CDDO-Im were much less susceptible to heart and lung damage caused by cigarette smoke than the mice that did not possess Nrf2.
Friedrich MJ. Preventing Emphysema. JAMA. 2009;301(5):477. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.40