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International team analyzes human genetic variation in key immune region

An international group of researchers today unveiled a detailed map of human genetic variation within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), the most important region of the human genome encoding the human response to infection, autoimmune disease and organ transplantation. The work represents a milestone in the analysis of genetic variability for this fundamental immune region and lays the scientific foundation for future efforts aimed at uncovering the genetic roots of immune-related diseases. The findings of this international team, which includes scientists from the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI), the Université de Montréal (UdeM), the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and several other research institutions, appear in the September 24 advance online edition of Nature Genetics.

"This new map will be a key resource for researchers to use to find genes affecting health, disease, and responses to medications," said senior author Dr. John D. Rioux, PhD, who is associate professor of medicine at the UdeM and at the MHI where he works as a researcher and director of the Laboratory in Genetics and Genomic Medicine of Inflammation (www.inflammgen.org), visiting scientist of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Genetics and Genomic Medicine of Inflammation. "It will provide the information necessary to design powerful studies to identify the genetic risk factors located within the MHC."

The MHC -- specifically, the genes that comprise it -- is associated with more diseases than any other region of the human genome. This includes common diseases such as atherosclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, HIV, lupus, multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease. However, pinpointing the specific changes that are causative in these diseases has been complicated by two factors: the extremely high degree of genetic diversity that exists in the MHC among different individuals and the tend
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Source:University of Montreal


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