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Indian Scientist led team discovered 10 new lupus genes

An International research team led by Indian origin scientist has successfully discovered 10 new genes associated with autoimmune lupus disease. Lupus, a debilitating condition where the body’s immune system becomes unbalanced and attacks its own tissues.

The Scientist of Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF), Swapan Nath and colleagues analysed more than 17,000 human DNA samples collected from blood gathered from volunteers from South Korea, China, Malaysia and Japan.  Of those samples, nearly 4,500 were confirmed cases of lupus, while the rest served as healthy controls for the research.

“We knew that lupus has a strong genetic base, but in order to better treat the disease, we had to identify those genes, “said Nath.  Through this analysis, the researchers identified 10 distinct DNA sequences linked to lupus. One gene in particular, known as GTF21, showed a high likelihood of being involved in the development of lupus, researchers said.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, the disease affects nearly five million people worldwide. Director of OMRF’s Autoimmune Disease Institute, Judith James said, “These finding mark a significant advance in our knowledge base for lupus genes”.

“For every gene we identify, it brings us closer to uncovering the trigger for this puzzling disease. Its a good news for researchers and patients at the same time,” he added.

The findings were published in the Journal Nature Genetics wherein Mr. Nath noted, “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.”

The ultimate goal, says Mr. Nath, is to understand the disease better and develop personalised intervention therapies for patients based on their genetic makeup.