Approaches to earlier detection and prevention in lung disease

Study code

Lead researcher
Professor Sir Bruce Ponder

Study type
Participant re-contact

Institution or company
Cancer Research UK, Cambridge Research Institute, University of Cambridge

Researcher type

Speciality area

Recruitment Site


There have been many studies over the years which tell us that smoking cigarettes causes damage to the lungs. However, individual people respond very differently to the effects of cigarette smoke. Some people seem to have very few problems at all. Others develop long-term illnesses such as emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Unfortunately, a proportion of smokers and ex-smokers will also go on to develop a more serious disease such as lung cancer.

Whilst we know that cigarette smoke plays a big part in causing lung diseases, it is not fully understood why some people develop these diseases whilst others do not. In particular, researchers want to understand why it is that some smokers and ex-smokers develop lung cancer whilst others do not.

This is one of a series of studies which has been designed to investigate whether a person’s genes may determine the way in which the cells in the airways react to the various substances in cigarette smoke. We hope that this will provide information which will help us to predict who may be at greater risk of developing lung cancer in the future and provide information which could be used to develop preventative treatments.

It is possible that cells in the nose, mouth and blood may react to cigarette smoke in the same way as the cells in the airways. This study will also help to prove whether this is correct. If it is correct, it may be possible to develop new ways to test people to see if they are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer.


Participation: For this study we recruited 164 volunteers from the Cambridge BioResource to give a 40ml blood sample, have a spirometry test and provide a medical history at Papworth Hospital. 

Organisation: This study is organised by Professor Sir Bruce Ponder at the Department of Oncology at the University of Cambridge.