Research Highlights

New links between genes, blood proteins and diseases

Published online 27 March 2017

Scientists trace back the roots of some diseases to faulty genes and specific blood proteins.

Biplab Das

A research team from Qatar and Germany has linked genetic variations and blood protein levels to various diseases in Arabs and Asians1. 

This is potentially useful for detecting potential drug targets, and eventually cures for diseases such as diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

“Our data provide the necessary starting points to better understand the molecular pathways, particularly the roles of proteins in various diseases. This raises hopes for new treatments and also for new ways to diagnose them at an early stage,” says the study’s lead author Karsten Suhre from the Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Qatar.

Using a combination of genome-wide scans and specific nucleic acids that detect disease-related proteins, the scientists identified 539 variations in single bases of various genes. They also showed how such genetic variations affected the roles and levels of different blood proteins, resulting in autoimmune disorders, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. 

The study linked 14 new proteins to variations in the ABO blood group gene. The ABO-gene-related proteins, the researchers say, influence the growth of blood vessels.

The study can also help scientists validate drug targets and improve the understanding of genes, adds Suhre.


  1. Suhre, K. et al. Connecting genetic risk to disease end points through the human blood plasma proteome. Nat. Commun. (2017)