AsianScientist (Apr. 27, 2015) – A trans-ethnic genome-wide analysis has revealed the genetic basis of racial differences underlying the chronic skin disease, psoriasis. These findings have been published in Nature Communications.
The causes of psoriasis are not yet fully understood, but a number of risk factors are recognized as root causes, including genetic and environmental factors, such as smoking, stress, obesity and alcohol consumption. The present study takes some of the guesswork out of identifying the root cause responsible for the prevalence of psoriasis in Caucasian compared to ethnic Chinese populations.
The researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR’s) Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) discovered four new genes that render people highly susceptible to psoriasis. By cross-referencing the sequence of 44 genes that influences psoriasis, which included the four recently discovered genes, between 8,682 Caucasians and 5,134 ethnic Chinese, the international team led by Professor Liu Jianjun, Deputy Director for Research Programs and Senior Group Leader of Human Genetics, found that ten out of the 44 genes linked to psoriasis susceptibility were found only in Caucasians and not in ethnic Chinese. This finding helps to explain why psoriasis is ten times more prevalent in Caucasians than in ethnic Chinese populations.
“The discovery indicates that the ethnic difference of psoriasis prevalence is largely due to genetic causes,” said Liu. “With this knowledge, there is now a possibility to design therapeutic cures in an ethnic-specific fashion for psoriasis as there is currently no cure. The genetic differences in psoriasis susceptibility between ethnically varied populations call for more genetic studies within the Asian population.”
Echoing the success of the research, Professor Ng Huck-Hui, Executive Director, GIS, noted the benefits and the future for such research:
“There are different types of treatments for psoriasis, with each addressing a different root cause of the disease. The only way for a patient to know which treatment best works for his or her condition is to try each over time–this will lead to added costs and time. The benefit of such genetic studies in psoriasis for example, allows the development of future genetic tests that will go a long way to help doctors take the guesswork out of figuring the root cause of disease and shortlist treatments that are known to be the most effective for that patient’s condition.”
Source: Genome Institute of Singapore.
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