A protein called Rtp801 that can be induced by adverse environmental conditions such as brain hypoxia plays a critical role in smoking-related lung injury and could provide a new therapeutic target for treating emphysema (Yoshida T et al. Nat
Med. doi:10.1038/nm.2157 [published online May 16, 2010]).
Researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and other institutions found increased levels of Rtp801 messenger RNA and protein in human lungs with emphysema and in the lungs of mice exposed to cigarette smoke. Knockout mice that could not express the gene encoding Rtp801 were protected against cigarette smoke–induced injury and emphysema.
Friedrich MJ. Smoking-Related Lung Damage. JAMA. 2010;304(1):32. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.865