Alpha-1 is a rare genetic condition that people are born with, which is why it is sometimes referred to as “genetic COPD.” Alpha-1 is caused by a deficiency in a specific protein called alpha1-proteinase inhibitor (A1-PI) or alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT). This protective protein plays a critical role in safeguarding the lungs from inflammation. Having low levels of alpha-1 protein can leave your lungs vulnerable to COPD such as emphysema.

For many people, emphysema can be caused by smoking, secondhand smoke, or environmental factors, like working with chemicals and other harmful substances that are breathed in on a regular basis. But for some people, emphysema is caused by a rare genetic condition called AAT deficiency, or alpha-1. This condition, which can go undetected for years because the symptoms are the same as traditional emphysema symptoms, may result in serious lung disease.

Alpha-1 is underdiagnosed. More than 90% of the estimated 100,000 people in the US who have alpha-1 don’t know they have it.1 The only way you will know if you have genetic emphysema caused by alpha-1 is to get a blood test.

Right now, research is underway to further evaluate the safety and effectiveness of an investigational drug administered by IV, and you may be able to take part. Learn more about the GLASSIA BAL Immuno Study.

  1. Lascano JE. The important role of primary care providers in the detection of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. J. Postgrad. Med. 2017;129(8):889-895.