A new national collaboration of asthma genetics researchers has revealed a novel gene associated with the disease in African-Americans, according to a new scientific report.
By pooling data from nine independent research groups looking for genes associated with asthma, the newly-created EVE Consortium identified a novel gene association specific to populations of African descent. In addition, the new study confirmed the significance of four gene associations recently reported by a European asthma genetics study.
The findings, published in Nature Genetics, are a promising first step for a new national scientific effort to hunt for the genetic roots of asthma.
"We now have a really good handle on at least five genes that anyone would be comfortable saying are asthma risk loci," said Carole Ober, PhD, co-chair of the EVE Consortium, senior author of the study, and Blum-Riese Professor of human genetics and obstetrics/gynecology at the University of Chicago. "I think it's an exciting time in asthma genetics."
"Asthma rates have been on the rise in recent years, with the greatest rise among African Americans," said Susan B. Shurin, M.D., acting director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, which co-funded the study. "Understanding these genetic links is an important first step towards our goal of relieving the increased burden of asthma in this population."
Genome-wide association studies, or GWAS, are a popular method used by geneticists to find genetic variants associated with elevated risk for a particular disease. Genetic data from a group of patients with the target disease are compared to data from a control group without the disease, and researchers look for variants that appear significantly more often in the disease group.
But the ability, or power, of GWAS to find disease-associated variants is dependent on the number of participants
|Contact: Robert Mitchum|
University of Chicago Medical Center