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Researchers find first evidence for a genetic cause for Barrett's esophagus
Date:9/10/2012

also showing a likely association with BE; this suggests that genetic effects may partly underpin the epidemiological observation that obesity is a risk factor for BE."

He continued: "In man, the MHC region occurs on chromosome 6 and consists of 150 genes, of which at least 50 per cent have functions in immunity, auto-immune responses or surveillance. Finding a gene here suggests that the immune system is not under control and is in over-drive in patients with BE. This suggests that it could be controlled by anti-inflammatory agents."

The researchers plan to test another 10,000 patients in order to replicate these results and to see if they can find any other genes that can predict who will go on to develop BE.

"We now know that BE can be inherited like Crohn's or coeliac disease. We have shown that it is likely that the body's control of inflammation and subtle changes to repair mechanisms dictate predisposition to the disease. Our findings make it possible to screen people to predict who will progress to develop BE, and enable us to design new drugs to treat the condition. Given that reflux oesophagitis is the commonest medical condition in the Western adult population, affecting one in three people, these finding have a huge potential impact," concluded Professor Jankowski.

BE occurs in about two per cent of the population, with the highest risk among men over 50 years old in developed countries. The risk of developing oesophageal adenocarcinoma among people with BE has been estimated to be approximately 0.4-1 per cent a year. Oesophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer worldwide with nearly 482,000 new cases diagnosed and about 406,500 deaths each year [3].


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Contact: Emma Mason
e.mason@qmul.ac.uk
Queen Mary, University of London
Source:Eurekalert

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