Research highlight

The genetics of wheezing, itching and sneezing

Nature Genetics

October 31, 2017

The shared genetic basis of asthma, hay fever and eczema centers on immune-related genes, reports a new paper published online this week in Nature Genetics. This study identifies new genomic regions associated with allergic diseases and helps explain why these conditions often co-occur.

Asthma, hay fever and eczema often coexist in the same people, partly because of a shared genetic origin. By analyzing genetic data from individuals with allergic disease, including asthma, hay fever or eczema, Manuel Ferreira and colleagues were able to identify risk variants that are shared across conditions. The vast majority of the associations identified are not disease specific, indicating that similar processes underlie these different allergic conditions.

Their analysis implicates over 130 genes as being associated with allergic disease. These genes are related to the immune system and point to new potential targets for therapy. The findings shed light on why allergy sufferers are often afflicted with asthma, hay fever and eczema together.

doi: 10.1038/ng.3985

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