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Feinstein Institute: Researching a Family Tree of Autoimmune Disorders
Date:9/3/2008

In July, Christine Demers and Areeba Sadiq set off for a family reunion in Arkansas. The nurse and the research coordinator at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research were not blood relatives but they were going West in search of the serum that binds this family. More precisely, their DNA.

(PRWEB) September 3, 2008 -- In July, Christine Demers and Areeba Sadiq set off for a family reunion in Arkansas. The nurse and the research coordinator at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research were not blood relatives but they were going West in search of the serum that binds this family. More precisely, their DNA.

Every year, four generations of this Arkansas family, now spread throughout the country, meet in Mount Magazine State Park for three days of food and family togetherness. This reunion had an extra twist. In an adjacent room, Ms. Demers and Ms. Sadiq had set up a makeshift laboratory to collect blood samples from the family - many of whom have inherited an unfortunate legacy of autoimmune disorders. It's a melting pot of rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, Crohn's disease, asthma and multiple sclerosis.

Normally, about three percent of the population has some kind of autoimmune condition. The MADGC study, short for Multiple Autoimmune Disease Genetics Consortium, is in its second round of research to identify genes that are common to many autoimmune diseases. Scientists at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, NY, have set out to collect genetic information from 400 to 800 families over a five-year period.

In the large Arkansas family, scientists have estimated that about 27 percent of its members have an autoimmune condition, which has its roots in the genes that they inherited. Feinstein scientists are combing the human genome in search of risk genes for autoimmune diseases in families heavily burdened with such conditions and the
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