Professor David van Heel, professor of gastrointestinal genetics at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, and his team who include collaborators from Ireland, the Netherlands, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, have demonstrated that of the nine coeliac gene regions now known, four of these are also predisposing factors for type 1 diabetes.
Their research sheds light not only on the nature of coeliac disease, but on the common origins of both diseases.
Professor van Heel and his team first performed a genome wide association study in coeliac disease. Genetic markers across the genome were compared in coeliac disease subjects versus healthy controls. They then assessed around 1,000 of the strongest markers in a further 5,000 samples. Their results identified seven new risk regions, six of which harbour important genes critical in the control of immune responses, highlighting their significance in the development of the disease.
Said Professor van Heel: ‘So far our findings explain nearly half of the heritability of coeliac disease – now studies with many more samples from individuals with coeliac disease are needed to identify the precise causal genetic variants from each region, and understand how these influence biological processes.’
Nature Genetics – 2 March 2008
Courtesy of Science Daily
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