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Scientists pinpoint inflammation gene

t helps clear cells of misfolded proteins that build up when cells are placed under stress, Blangero said. Inflammation develops when those faulty proteins accumulate in a cell. People with a genetic variation that impairs SEPS1' ability to purify the cells by clearing out the bad proteins tend to suffer higher levels of inflammation than people in whom the gene fulfills that role more efficiently, according to the study.

The study found the same relationship between SEPS1 and inflammation in two geographically and ethnically distinct populations of people in the United States, one in Wisconsin and one in Texas.

Greg Collier, Ph.D., CEO of ChemGenex, said the discovery of SEPS1 and its function could yield new approaches for inhibiting inflammation, perhaps through medications that regulate SEPS1. An expected search for other genes that influence SEPS1 also could lead to other potential areas for drug intervention.

Researchers studying diseases impacted by inflammation also might look to see what role SEPS1 plays in disease susceptibility. Already, ChemGenex and SFBR scientists are beginning to study how this gene influences a variety of complex diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, preeclampsia, and various infectious diseases.

Kissebah said it provides new insight into studies he leads on the genetics of obesity. "Now that we have identified SEPS1' role in inflammation, which is known to initiate the process of arterial wall hardening and the onset of Type 2 diabetes, we are developing an understanding of why obese persons with a faulty SEPS1 gene may be at higher risk of developing heart disease and diabetes," he said.

The path to discovery: finding SEPS1 and its influence

These groundbreaking findings about SEPS1 are built upon a discovery five years ago by ChemGenex Pharmaceuticals. The company was studying the desert sand rat, an animal that, like humans, has certain individu
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Source:Medical College of Wisconsin


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