BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Scientists have pinpointed a set of common variations in human DNA that signal a higher risk for lupus in women who carry them. Some of these variations are more common in relatives of lupus patients, which may help future studies examining whether lupus is more prevalent among certain racial and ethnic groups, according to a new study.
Also, the findings point to various drug targets important to the search for cutting-edge lupus treatments, according to an international consortium of genetics researchers that includes scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
Building on this finding we hope to identify those at highest risk of lupus, diagnose the disease earlier and hopefully find a cure, said Robert Kimberly, M.D., a professor of medicine in the UAB Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology and co-author on the new study.
The findings are published in the journal Nature Genetics.
The study, the largest of its kind to date, is the work of the International Consortium for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLEGEN), of which UAB is a member. SLE is the medical term for systemic lupus erythematosus, a common form of the disease.
Looking at the genomes of 6,728 people, the researchers found the variations located on various chromosomes in women of European ancestry. The variations may be linked to as many as 67 percent of all lupus cases in women, the study authors write.
These findings underscore that numerous genes, which are often immune-function related, contribute to the risk of developing lupus, said Carl D. Langefeld, Ph.D., of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., the senior author on the SLEGEN study.
The Lupus Foundation of America estimates 1.5 million to 2 million Americans have a form of lupus, but the actual number may be higher. More than 90 percent of people with lupus are women and lupus rates are higher in Af
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University of Alabama at Birmingham