Researchers discover 10 new lupus genes in Asian population study

Source: Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation News

An international coalition of researchers led by Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Swapan Nath, Ph.D., has identified 10 new genes associated with the autoimmune disease lupus. The findings were published in the Jan. 25 issue of Nature Genetics.

Nath and his colleagues analyzed more than 17,000 human DNA samples collected from blood gathered from volunteers in four countries: South Korea, China, Malaysia and Japan. Of those samples, nearly 4,500 had confirmed cases of lupus, while the rest served as healthy controls for the research.  From that analysis, the researchers identified 10 distinct DNA sequence variants linked to lupus, a debilitating chronic autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system becomes unbalanced and attacks its own tissues.

Thirty-seven researchers from 23 institutes, hospitals and universities in the United States, Malaysia, Korea, China and Japan took part in Nath’s study.

With these new genes identified, Nath and his colleagues can try to pinpoint where defects occur and whether those mutations contribute to the onset of lupus pathogenesis. Nath said that understanding where and how the defects arise will allow scientists to develop more effective therapies specifically targeting those genes.