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New lupus genes identified by Indian scientist

New Delhi: 10 new lupus genes were identified by an international Indian-American team of scientists. These genes are associated with the autoimmune disease lupus-a debilitating condition where the body’s immune system becomes unbalanced and attack its own tissues.

Swapan Nath, a scientist at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation(OMRF), and his colleagues analysed more than 17,000 human DNA samples collected from the blood of volunteers across four countries- South Korea, China, Malaysia and Japan.

Nearly 4,500 samples had confirmed cases of lupus while the rest served as healthy controls for the research.

“We know lupus has a strong genetic basis but in order to better treat the disease, we have to identify those genes,” said Nath.

From that analysis, the researchers identified 10 distinct DNA sequence variants linked to lupus.

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body. Its signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.

This disease has been affecting nearly five million people worldwide, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.

“These findings mark a significant advance in our knowledge base for lupus genes,” said Judith James, director of OMRF’s Autoimmune Disease Institute.

“For every gene we identify, it brings us closer to uncovering the trigger for this puzzling disease. It’s good news for researchers and patients alike,” he added.

One gene known as GTF2I, showed a high likelihood of being involved in the development of lupus according to the study.

“Its genetic effect appears to be higher than previously known lupus genes discovered from Asians, and we surmise that it now may be the predominant gene involved in lupus,” Nath noted in a paper published in the journal Nature Genetics.

The understanding of the disease and development of intervention therapies for patients based on their genetic makeup was identified as the ultimate goal by Nath.(IANS)

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