Navigation Links
Genetic risk for elevated arsenic toxicity discovered

February 23, 2012 -- One of the first large-scale genomic studies conducted in a developing country has discovered genetic variants that elevate the risk for skin lesions in people chronically exposed to arsenic. Genetic changes found near the enzyme for metabolizing the chemical into a less toxic form can significantly increase an individual's risk for developing arsenic-related disease.

The discovery could point the way to new screening and intervention options for people who are exposed to groundwater with high levels of arsenic, according to the investigators at the University of Chicago Medicine, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, and in Bangladesh. The study is published in PLoS Genetics.

The group's genome-wide association study, or GWAS, was conducted in nearly 3,000 individuals exposed to arsenic for decades in Bangladesh. Since the widespread installation of hand-pumped wells to tap groundwater sources in the 1970s, as many as 77 million people about half the population of Bangladesh have been accidentally exposed to dangerous levels of arsenic. The World Health Organization calls the exposure "the largest mass poisoning of a population in history."

For more than a decade, the scientists have studied the epidemiology of arsenic-related disease, such as skin lesions, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses, in this population, as well as the effectiveness of interventions to prevent toxicity. In the new study, the researchers sought genetic answers for why some individuals appear to be at higher risk for developing disease after arsenic exposure.

"These results add clarity to the genetic architecture that is playing a role in arsenic toxicity and its underlying biology," said senior author Habibul Ahsan, MD, MMedSc, Louis Block Professor of health studies, medicine and human genetics at the University of Chicago Medicine. "It's a rare type of study for a major problem affecting millions of people around the world, and it opens up opportunities for genetic studies of other major public health problems in developing countries."

The researchers genotyped thousands of arsenic-exposed individuals from the group's main studies for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) throughout the genome, and looked for associations with arsenic metabolite levels and risk of skin lesions.

The genetic findings provide strong evidence that efficient metabolism of arsenic through methylation protects against the toxin. Compounds that boost methylation, such as folic acid, could reduce arsenic toxicity a strategy currently being tested by co-author Mary Gamble, PhD, associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

"If we could somehow find a way to do that in Bangladesh, it would make individuals much better methylators of arsenic, and as this current study shows if you're a better methylator you're at a lower risk for disease," said co-author Joseph Graziano, PhD, professor of Environmental Health Sciences and Director of Superfund Research Program at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.

Beyond the clinical applications, the current study demonstrates that large-scale genomic studies are possible in a largely rural population of a developing country. The study offers a rare example of a GWAS result with clear, immediate potential for translational impact.


Contact: Stephanie Berger
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Related biology news :

1. Study finds college students willing to donate genetic material to biobanks for research
2. Wild west approach to claiming the oceans genetic resources must end: UBC media release
3. North Carolina-based genetic resources fuel big scientific progress
4. Genetic studies of special mice could lead to rapid human health advances
5. Cleveland Clinic joins 23andMe in the search for genetic clues to Parkinsons disease
6. Drug halts organ damage in inflammatory genetic disorder
7. New study sheds light on genetics of rice metabolism
8. New virtual tool may provide more accurate diagnosis of genetic mutations
9. Dyslexia-linked genetic variant decreases midline crossing of auditory pathways
10. Body clock receptor linked to diabetes in new genetic study
11. Genetics study reveals how bacteria behind serious childhood disease evolve to evade vaccines
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/12/2015)... Nov. 12, 2015  Arxspan has entered into ... and Harvard for use of its ArxLab cloud-based ... tools. The partnership will support the institute,s efforts ... chemical research information internally and with external collaborators. ... for managing the Institute,s electronic laboratory notebook, compound ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... NEW YORK , Nov. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... refers to behavioral biometrics that helps to identify ... prevent fraud. Signature is considered as the secure ... for the identification of a particular individual because ... offers more accurate results especially when dynamic signature ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... , Nov. 2, 2015  SRI International has been ... provide preclinical development services to the National Cancer Institute ... will provide scientific expertise, modern testing and support facilities, ... preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer ... The PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program is an ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... 2015  CardioCell LLC, a Stemedica Cell Technologies ... cardiovascular indications, intends to proceed with finalizing a ... from a Heart Failure Advisory Board comprising cardiology ... Board members . In a recent meeting members ... and efficacy data from CardioCell,s on-going chronic heart ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... 1, 2015 Cepheid (Nasdaq: CPHD ) ... the Piper Jaffray Healthcare Conference in New ... is reaffirming its outlook for the fourth quarter of ... to discussing longer term business model expectations. ...  "We continue to be the fastest growing company of ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... physicians, aesthetic practitioners and aesthetics professionals from Central America and abroad for the ... in Panama City, Panama Feb. 17-19, 2016. Testart will present and discuss new ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... /PRNewswire/ - BioAmber Inc. (NYSE: BIOA ), a leader in ... Business Act on Climate Pledge, alongside more than 140 companies ... Obama Administration to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to climate action ... COP21 Paris climate negotiations. ... Canada . --> BioAmber uses biotechnology to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: