A group of researchers from the Institute of Immunology and the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) were awarded the Dr. Luis Razetti Applied Scientific Research Award, for their findings in the genetic evaluation of the Venezuelan mestizo population with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
According to a press release from Mincyt, Alexis García, Master in Clinical Immunology and Coordinator of Extension of the Institute of Immunology (IDI) of the UCV, points out that the genetic wealth of Venezuelans is so great that it requires evaluations and studies detailed to detect if some individuals are predisposed or prone to certain diseases or, on the contrary, are less likely to develop some pathologies.
“We have been working in this line of research for 5 years. In this case, 303 individuals participated, of which 103 were asthmatics, 100 had COPD and 100 were healthy people for the control group. We found that there are characteristics in some individuals of the Venezuelan population that protected them from these diseases and others had genetic characteristics that made them more susceptible or prone to developing these conditions, ”he explained.
The scientist commented that, although clearly each individual is different, they managed to establish that there are important genetic risk factors for both diseases in the Venezuelan population.
“This is one of the first investigations of this type in Venezuela. Our population has been mixed; from the beginning, for example, Europeans with the natives who were there at the time of the invasion. Then came the black population, slaves from Africa; and thus many more migrations at various times in the country's history. All this makes us very rich from the genetic point of view, it is very important to do genetic evaluation in the population, not only for asthma and COPD, but also for other diseases ”, he said.
The specialist Alexis García stressed that the success of this research was based on the collaboration of professionals from the Institute of Immunology and the Chair of Physiopathology of the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Central University of Venezuela (UCV).
“Our research team is made up of Diego Lema, first author, who was a bachelor, a medical student at UCV when the genetic study began; the doctor in Pneumonology, Dolores Moreno; the geneticist Carmen García and the doctor Juan Bautista de Sanctis. With this research work, Diego Lema graduated with honors and was later accepted at the University of Wisconsin in the USA to carry out a doctorate in Immunology ”, he pointed out.
To work for Venezuela
The Extension coordinator of the UCV Institute of Immunology, Alexis García, expressed his satisfaction with the award obtained and assured that Venezuela continues to train high-quality professionals, capable of producing unique, innovative and very special research works for our country.
“We must continue working in Venezuela, we must continue investigating as much as possible. This is what we like and have done for a long time. It is a legacy that will help the generations of relief, future students and this will be a great benefit for the Faculty of Medicine because it will serve the well-being of patients. That is our ultimate goal: people's health, "he said.
In this sense, García added that all the participants who entered the study received an extra benefit, since they underwent a complete check-up, laboratory analysis and pulmonary evaluation.
“Key medical education was shared with them so that they learn to control their disease, as well as the respective medical indications. The patients who entered the study received medical evaluation, control and follow-up of these diseases for a long period of time ”, he stressed.