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Complexity of Crohn's disease revealed as 'gene' count tops 30
Date:6/29/2008

New research has trebled the number of genetic regions known to be implicated in Crohn's disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, to over thirty. The research, published today in the journal Nature Genetics, has identified a number of potential new targets for drug development as well as providing surprising new links between the condition and other common diseases including asthma.

Crohn's disease affects between 1 in 500 and 1 in 1000 people within the UK, causing inflammation of gastrointestinal tract and leading to pain, ulcers and diarrhoea. The disease can strike at any age, but onset is typically between 15 and 40 years old. As many as 80% of people suffering from the disease will require surgery at some point.

Previous studies have already identified 11 genes and loci (regions of the genome typically including one or more genes) that increase susceptibility to the disease. Now an international collaboration of researchers has identified a further 21 new genes and loci. The team of scientists and clinicians involved used DNA samples from almost 12,000 people. Many were from UK patient collections and analysed originally in the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium the largest study ever undertaken into the genetics underlying common diseases with others coming from European and North American collections.

"We now know of more than thirty genetic regions that affect susceptibility to Crohn's disease," says Dr Jeffrey Barrett from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, lead author of the study. "These explain only about a fifth of the genetic risk, which implies that there may be hundreds of genes implicated in the disease, each increasing susceptibility by a small amount.

"Whilst this study shows the power of genome wide association studies to reveal the genetics behind common diseases, it also highlights the complexity of diseases such as Crohn's."

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Contact: Craig Brierley
c.brierley@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-8866
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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