Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Researchers from the University College London (UCL) recently revealed that they had identified over 200 genes for Crohn´s Disease, a chronic bowel condition. The scientists believe that knowledge about genetic factors of complex diseases will help in understanding patients´ symptoms and providing better treatment.
The study looked at the entire human genome, and the findings are featured in a recent edition of The American Journal of Human Genetics. The paper described how the team of investigators was able to develop a new way of for determining and mapping gene locations for inherited diseases that are complex in structure. As a result, they were able to find a multitude of additional genes for Crohn’s Disease. The findings are important as the illness currently affects about 100 to 150 individuals out of every 100,000 people.
“The discovery of so many gene locations for Crohn’s Disease is an important step forward in understanding the disease, which has a very complicated genetic basis. We hope that the method we have used here can be used to identify the genes involved in other diseases which are similarly complex, for example different cancers and diabetes,” explained the study´s senior author Dr. Nikolas Maniatis, a researcher from the Department of Genetics, Evolution, and Environment at UCL, in a prepared statement.
In the past, researchers have had difficulty in dissecting the genetic components of Crohn´s Disease as result of the many genes involved and their intricate interactions with the environment. To help with this study, the data for the research project was provided by the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (WTCC), with genetic information pooled from 1,698 patients. Based on the difficulty of determining these genes, scientists relied on larger cohorts of patients in the hope that more data sets would produce better results. The results of the study show that it is sometimes better to track smaller, better defined groups to understand how individuals inherit complex disease and the components that can improve personalized treatment.
“The discovery of so many additional genes for Crohn’s and much more precise locations within the gene-regions was partly because of the highly informative genetic maps of the human genome that we have used in our approach to locating the genes involved,” continued Maniatis in the statement. “The success of our work was also attributable to the fact that we were able to subdivide patients by disease presentation. Data stratification can help sort out the genetics, and before long genetics will be able to sort out patients.”
The team of investigators also found evidence which demonstrates that specifically clinical sub-groups of patients will have varied risk genes.
“Some genes are likely to have a large effect and some small, but not all genes will act the same way in all patients. We can combine all this information with that obtained by others from examining cellular and molecular changes to sort this out. This will ultimately lead to more personalized strategies for treatment,” concluded the study´s co-author Dallas Swallow, a professor with the Department of Genetics, Evolution & Environment at UCL, in the statement.