New genes tied to asthma, allergies discovered
Through a 10-year study, scientists from Imperial College London discovered 30 new genes that may predispose people to asthma and certain allergies. Their findings may help in developing new treatments for these conditions, as well taking the guesswork out of predicting which patients will respond best to current treatments.
The team analyzed white blood cells from 355 study participants with asthma. They investigated epigenetic changes, which influence the activity of genes, rather than changes affecting the genetic code itself. That allowed them to pinpoint genes regulating an antibody associated with the triggering of allergic reactions.
"It isn't just the genetic code that can influence disease, and DNA requencing can only take you so far," said William Cookson, one of the study's authors. "Our study shows that modifications on top of the DNA that control how genes are read may be even more important."
Asthma affects 8 percent of American adults, or about 18.7 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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