In a new study from SciLifeLab at Uppsala University, researchers have found a total of 141 regions (genes) in our genetic material that largely explain the genetic risk underlying asthma, hay fever and eczema. As many as 41 of the genes identified have not previously link to an elevated risk for these diseases. The results are published in the scientific journal Human Molecular Genetics.
The risk of developing asthma, hay fever or eczema is affected by genes; environment and lifestyle factors. Many patients diagnosed with one of these diseases also develop the other two at some stage in life. Although previous studies have find many genes that exert an effect on these diseases, research have been unable to explain the whole genetic background to the origin of asthma, hay fever and eczema.
Diagnosed with asthma
In this study, which is the largest of its kind to date; researchers have analyse self-report data from 350,000 participants in Britain’s UK Biobank. Millions of gene positions were test for their effect on people’s risk of being diagnose with asthma, hay fever and/or eczema. The 41 new genetic finds were also test in an independent group of individuals; so comprising 110,000 clients of the American company 23andMe.
This testing verified that most of these new genetic variants; which have an effect on the individual’s risk of developing disease. Every 23andMe participant, or client, has paid personally to send in a saliva sample; use by the company to analyse the person’s DNA. The participants then receive information about whether they carry various inherit genetic traits; so that may elevate their risk of a number of diseases.
Researchers can apply to obtain results in which 23 and Me have analyse clients’ DNA; to find additional genetic variants that affect the disease analysed. The researchers can never access any given individual’s results, nor can they link their findings with specific individuals. “For those interest in taking part in similar studies where they can get information about their own genetic inheritance, they’d like to point out that the results you can read from DNA in similar studies relate only to people’s disease risk; which doesn’t correspond to a diagnosis.
Disease specific effects
External factors also affect our risk for these complex traits; also an elevate risk doesn’t mean they’re going to develop the disease,” says Weronica Ek, researcher at the Department of Immunology; Genetics and Pathology at Uppsala University, who head the study. The study show that a large number of the genes identify entail a raise risk for all three diseases.
This, in turn, shows that the elevate risk of suffering from allergy when asthma is diagnose, or the elevate risk of asthma when allergy is diagnose, seems to be largely due to genetic factors. The study was also able to identify several genes that boost the risk of one of these diseases in relation to the others, which demonstrates that a number of more disease specific effects also exist. All three diseases arise through a complex association among several genes and also with environmental and lifestyle factors.
To be able to improve the patients’ everyday lives; it is important to develop drugs that are adapt to individual patients’ genetic risks, and also to understand how our environment and lifestyle can prevent disease and improve symptoms of disease. “The results from this study are helping us to reach a greater understanding of why certain individuals are at higher risk of developing asthma and allergies; also they hope the results will be put to use both in clinical diagnostics and in drug development,” Ek says.