Rumour has it that this:
SELECT * FROM lineage_string where lineage like '%179%' and lineage regexp '(^|/)179(/|$)'
SELECT * FROM lineage_string where lineage regexp '(^|/)179(/|$)'
It is possible that it could be faster because the LIKE condition can be evaluated more quickly then the regular expression so if most rows fail the test it could be faster. However it will be slower if most rows succeed as two tests must be run for successful rows instead of just one. It also depends on which expression the optimizer chooses to run first.
An even bigger speedup can be witnessed if you have something like this:
SELECT * FROM ( SELECT * FROM lineage_string WHERE lineage LIKE '179%' ) WHERE lineage regexp '^179(/|$)'
Now an index can be used to find likely rows because LIKE '179%' is sargable. Many rows won't need to be checked at all.
As always the best way to be sure is to measure it for yourself on your actual data.