Researchers Identified New Genetic Variants Linked To Eczema

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Eczema is a common skin problem that usually peaks in infancy. It is characterized by the chronic inflammation of the epidermis and it affects many of the world’s population. Studies have been conducted to look into this condition more closely. Very recently, the research team from Children of the 90s at the University of Bristol worked with 22 other studies worldwide, as published on December 25 in Nature Genetics. They have found the 3 new genes tied up with eczema. Previously, researchers from Europe had only determined 2 major genes, which makes this new discovery very useful in exploring long-term diagnostic and treatment options for this disease.

The first two genetic variants were nearly similar with OVOL1 and ACTL9 genes related to the skin-barrier function. The third is in an area of the genome that contains immune system-significant genes, IL4-KIF3A. These discoveries highlight the essence of these biological systems in the disease’s onset and progress.

One in 5 children in the UK and other developed nations are suffering from eczema; eight of 10 cases happen prior to the child’s 5th birthday. This is often inherited also. Many of them experience remission in early adolescence; however, this condition may recur in adulthood in 50% of these children. Eighty percent of children having parents with eczema are also experiencing the condition, while 60% of them suffer from this when only one parent has the disease. This condition is typically connected with hay fever, food allergy, asthma and the like. Therapeutic options are also inadequate that leads to chronic suffering and undue financial load to the patients and the family.

This study involved about 10,000 cases and 40, 000 controls from population-based researches in the UK, Australia, North America and Europe so that the genes linked to eczema from among the whole genome will be discovered. Moreover, previous studies frm the Children of the 90s suggested that peanut allergy can result from an allergen infiltrating the skin like creams containing peanut oil. Furthermore, the study validated that filaggrin, another skin-barrier gene, was connected with eczema and peanut allergy.

University of Bristol’s Dr. Lavinia Paternster, the lead author, stated that the knowledge about the genes predisposing us to eczema has been limited compared with other diseases. She added that their research is the most encompassing regarding eczema, which tries to determine which genes are involved. She also admitted that there is still a lot to study about. Nonetheless, these novel discoveries underline the biological mechanisms imperative to eczema and are very significant in the improvement of how this disease is diagnosed, managed and treated.

Professor Stephan Weidinger, the lead senior author and dermatologist from the University of Kiel, Germany, elaborated that the 2 genetic variants they have unraveled have never been linked with atopic dermatitis until this instance and the other seems to be related with asthma. This implies the association between the two conditions. He further added that their study results will not directly move to performing genetic tests to predict potential eczema sufferers or novel therapies, but will lay the foundations in this perspective.




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