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Scientists at University College Dublin (UCD) have discovered a possible new treatment for lung disease.

Over 100,000 people in Ireland suffer from obstructive lung disorders such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which are mostly caused by smoking.

Professor of Physiology at UCD's School of Medicine, Paul McLoughlin, said that while they have not reached a treatment stage, they have identified a key pathway into the disease.

“We've identified a new pathway that seems to make things worse in lung disease, related to a protein called gremlin," Prof McLoughlin said.

"Now that we've identified that we can begin the task of exploring ways of blocking this protein and its actions.

"Realistically, looking at drug development, we are 10 or 15 years away from an active agent - if all goes well - that would be used in patients."