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International effort led by OMRF discovers 3 new lupus genes

March 29, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY, March 29, 2012 — Three newly confirmed lupus genes are opening new avenues of research at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

A paper published in the April 6 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics describes three lupus genes discovered by OMRF researchers as part of a massive international collaboration.

With help from partners around the world, including universities and research facilities in Granada, Spain, Taipei, Taiwan, Seoul, Korea, Bogota, Colombia, and across the U.S., OMRF scientists gathered more than 17,000 samples for large-scale genetic testing.

The project, which began in 2009, took a year to gather the samples and another year to run the genetic tests. Since then, the researchers have pored over the data, said lead author and OMRF scientist Christopher Lessard, Ph.D.

"We have pinned down three new genes that show statistical significance for lupus risk," he said. "We've also turned up another 11 regions we think might be related to lupus, but those need more study."

The study is notable for its inclusion of several ethnic groups and results that show that the genes that cause lupus aren't always universal, said OMRF researcher Patrick Gaffney, M.D.

Using samples from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, scientists found the genes IRF8 and TMEM39a were associated with lupus in European-American, African-American, Gullah and Asian patients. A third gene named IKZF3 was only significant in African-American and European-American samples.

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Source eurekalert.org

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