Swapan Nath, an Indian-American scientist working with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) and his team, has identified 10 new genes associated with the autoimmune disease lupus. Lupus is a complex disease, in which ones body's immune system becomes unbalanced and attacks its own tissues.
The research team has analyzed over 17,000 human DNA samples collected from the blood gathered from volunteers in four countries - South Korea, China, Malaysia and Japan.
Of the samples 4,500 had lupus and the rest served as healthy controls for the research. "We know lupus has a strong genetic basis but in order to better treat the disease, we have to identify those genes," said Nath. From the analysis the researchers identified 10 distinct DNA sequence variants linked to lupus a disease that affects nearly 5 million people worldwide. In the study one gene in particular, known as GTF21 showed a likelihood of being involved in the development of lupus.
Mr. Nath said its genetic effect appears to be higher than previously known lupus genes discovered from the Asians, and the research team believes it now may be the predominant gene involved in lupus. He said the ultimate goal is to identify the genes responsible for causing diseases and to understand what they do, thus developing personalized intervention therapies for patients based on their genetic make-up.
Swapan Nath is a M.Sc. from University of Calcutta and a Ph.D. from Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta, India. The research paper was published in the journal Nature Genetics.