SciLifeLab researchers have identified 141 genes associated with an increased risk of developing asthma, hay fever and eczema. 41 of the identified genes have not previously been linked to either of the diseases and the result was published in the scientific journal Human Molecular Genetics.
Diseases like asthma, hay fever and eczema are not caused by a single defective gene but rather multiple ones in combination with environmental and lifestyle factors. The exact mechanisms behind this is not yet known but statistics shows that patients diagnosed with one of the diseases often develop the other two later in life.
In a recent study, led by Weronica Ek (SciLifeLab/Uppsala University) from Åsa Johansson’s group, researchers analyzed DNA from 350,000 individuals from Britain’s UK Biobank and could confirm the linkage between 100 known genes as well as identify 41 new ones.
The study showed that a large number of the identified genes can increase the risk of all three diseases suggesting that the elevated risk of getting multiple diagnoses is mostly dependent on genetic factors.
In order to improve patients quality of life new drugs needs to be developed, tailored to each patients genetical setup and the way that the environment and lifestyle affects the disease needs to be further investigated.
“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, and we hope the results will be put to use both in clinical diagnostics and in drug development,” says Weronica Ek.
Read the press release from Uppsala University here.