Researcher tags genes linked to disc degeneration

Mar 11, 2009 By Quinn Phillips
Researcher tags genes linked to disc degeneration
Michele Crites-Battie

(PhysOrg.com) -- Lumbar disc degeneration is an uncomfortable condition that affects millions of people, but two University of Alberta researchers have identified some of the genes that are causing problems.

Michele Crites-Battie? and Tapio Videman, in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, have discovered eight that are directly related to .

"We found more genes associated with disc degeneration than was discovered in 30 prior studies," said Videman. "This is very exciting."

The pair started by studying 25 specific genes they thought could be linked to the disease.

They picked these "candidate" genes based on the views of two leading experts in the field who Crites-Battie? and Videman have collaborated with through the years. They narrowed their search down using state-of-the-art DNA analyzers, then applying statistical methods and analyzing MRIs of twins' spines.

"Identifying genes involved can provide important insights into the biological mechanisms behind disc degeneration and a better understanding of what is going wrong in the system," said Crites-Battie?. "This can eventually lead to effective interventions for the problem."

The pair will now look at the interaction between these eight genes and their environment. This will help them identify what gene forms indicate susceptibility.

"This will tell us who should avoid physical loading, and in which people obesity could be a risk factor for ," said Videman.

But this could be a long process as disc degeneration is what's called polygenic, meaning it involves more than one gene.

"There are likely to be quite a number of genes involved and a system of complex gene-gene and gene-environment interactions," said Crites-Battie. "Obtaining a full appreciation of the of disc degeneration is likely to be a very lengthy, involved process."

This discovery comes about a year after the pair's award winning 10-year international twin-spine study proved that disc degeneration is affected largely by genetics.

"For years it has been thought that wear and tear was the main cause," said Crites-Battie?.

The U of A researchers have made huge strides in the field and are determined to put an end to lower-back pain.

"This study could lead to interventions and actions individuals could take to minimize disc degeneration to which [patients] might be particularly prone," said Crites-Battie?. "We are very excited about continuing down this trail and believe there is still much more to be learned."

Provided by University of Alberta

Explore further: Revolutionary handheld DNA diagnostic unit allows lab-quality analysis in the field

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

AT&T to put 8,000 natural-gas vehicles on road

Mar 11, 2009

(AP) -- AT&T Inc. said Wednesday it will spend up to $350 million over five years to buy more than 8,000 Ford Motor Co. vans and trucks, then convert them to run on compressed natural gas.

US struggles to pinpoint cyber attacks: Top official

Mar 10, 2009

The United States often cannot quickly or reliably trace a cyber attack back to its source, even as rival nations and extremists may be looking to wage virtual war, a top official warned Tuesday.

Hewlett Packard to create 500 jobs in Ireland

Mar 10, 2009

US technology company Hewlett Packard is to create 500 jobs with an 18-million-euro (23-million-dollar) expansion of its global service desk operation in Leixlip, County Kildare southwest of Dublin, Prime ...

Recommended for you

NIH issues finalized policy on genomic data sharing

20 minutes ago

The National Institutes of Health has issued a final NIH Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) policy to promote data sharing as a way to speed the translation of data into knowledge, products and procedures that improve health while ...

The genes behind the guardians of the airways

6 hours ago

Dysfunctions in cilia, tiny hair-like structures that protrude from the surface of cells, are responsible for a number of human diseases. However the genes involved in making cilia have remained largely elusive. ...

Cancer leaves a common fingerprint on DNA

Aug 25, 2014

Regardless of their stage or type, cancers appear to share a telltale signature of widespread changes to the so-called epigenome, according to a team of researchers. In a study published online in Genome Me ...

User comments : 0