Thursday, April 10, 2008

Susceptibility Gene for Asthma Identified

photo from Georgetown University Medical Center website

NEJM link here. That's the very technical article, though. Here is a more public-friendly explanation from Modern Medicine:

Serum levels of YKL-40 correlate with asthma status
Apr 9, 2008
WEDNESDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have identified a gene conferring susceptibility to asthma in populations of European descent, according to research published online April 9 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Carole Ober, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago, and colleagues performed a genome-wide association study to identify genes affecting serum levels of the chitinase-like protein, YKL-40, in 753 Hutterites, a founder population of European descent. The researchers then investigated the association of an implicated single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) with asthma in the Hutterites, in two unrelated case-control populations of European descent and in a birth-cohort of children of European descent at high-risk for asthma.
A promoter SNP upstream from the gene encoding YKL-40, the chitinase 3-like 1 (CHI3L1) gene, was associated with serum YKL-40 levels, asthma, bronchial hyperresponsiveness and pulmonary function measures in the Hutterite population. In addition, this SNP predicted the presence of asthma in the two case-control populations and serum YKL-40 levels in the birth cohort.
These findings suggest that "CHI3L1 is a susceptibility gene for asthma, bronchial hyperresponsiveness and reduced lung function, and elevated YKL-40 levels are a biomarker for asthma and decline in lung function," the authors conclude.
Two study authors disclosed receiving consulting fees and grant support from pharmaceutical companies, including MedImmune, a company investigating YKL-40 as a potential therapeutic target in asthma. One co-author is an inventor for a chitinase assay licensed to MedImmune.
AbstractFull TextEditorial

I'm particularly interested in what this could mean for other eosinophil-involved diseases, of course. Further updates, as always, as events warrant.


LoriAngela said...

Wow. I thought I'd hit the wrong link. I'm currently studying to return to nursing as an RN and I have asthma. This was very interesting

Leesy said...

I'm really quite fascinated in it both because we have occurances of asthma in the family and because the mechanism seems to close to that of eosinophilic GI diseases, and I keep hoping that some of the big strides in asthma research will prove useful in eos GI disease research, too.