If air gets scarce -- new gene causes asthma in children

August 20, 2007

Dr. Thomas Illig, head of the working group Molecular Epidemiology at the GSF National Research Centre for Environment and Health in Neuherberg, near Munich, has also been involved in this large-scale study.

The team examined over 300,000 genetic marker in thousands of asthmatic children and compared their data with those of healthy controls. The newly found gene, ORMDL3, is a promising object of research: it could help to improve the prevention and diagnosis of asthma, and possibly to develop a new therapy.

In Germany, one child in ten suffers from asthma – without any hope of being cured. At best, until now, only symptoms can be treated. However, the research team has now been able to identify one of the main players in the complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors that lead to asthma. The scientists used the fact that the genetic material of different individuals shows differences. One type of DNA variants is called SNPs, short for “Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms”. They can be compared and statistically analysed.

To a hitherto unprecedented extent, in the present case, more than 300,000 SNPs were analysed in about 2,300 study participants, and briefly half had suffered from asthma since childhood. The comparison of their genetic data with those of their healthier contemporaries showed that several genetic variations clearly raise the risk of asthma in infancy. Above all, the gene expression of the gene ORMDL3 was influenced by them. However, significant associations must be examined in so-called replication studies of further case-control groups. “Thus, in the GAC, the Genome Analysis Centre of GSF, we have analysed an asthma population that was recruited in the LMU by Dr. Michael Kabesch, and, in this way, we could confirm the previous results”, reports Illig.

The asthma study is promoted in Germany by the National Genome Research Network (NGFN) and was carried out within the scope of the EU-financed GABRIEL project to decipher the causes of asthma. Illig is involved as a partner in both projects. Now he and his colleagues have planned follow-up investigations. “This really was an excellent joint effort that we shall continue”, the molecular biologist commented. “GSF is involved in such high-grade projects, not least because the Genome Analysis Centre is one of the few institutions that can carry out genome-wide studies on this scale. In the field of genotyping, we belong to the leading groups in Germany.”

Source: National Research Center for Environment and Health

Explore further: Researchers identify genes associated with asthma

Related Stories

Researchers identify genes associated with asthma

September 3, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Yale University researchers have identified three genes containing genetic variations that appear to increase a child's risk of developing asthma. The findings will be published in three separate journals: ...

'TIMely' intervention for asthma

July 12, 2010

TIM1 has been identified as a susceptibility gene for asthma. New research in mice now suggests that targeting TIM-1 protein might have therapeutic benefit in treating this increasingly prevalent condition.

Living in the genetic comfort zone

February 26, 2015

The information encoded in the DNA of an organism is not sufficient to determine the expression pattern of genes. This fact has been known even before the discovery of epigenetics, which refers to external modifications to ...

Hookworm genome sequenced

January 19, 2014

Going barefoot in parts of Africa, Asia and South America contributes to hookworm infections, which afflict an estimated 700 million of the world's poor. The parasitic worm lives in the soil and enters the body through the ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.