Yes, Virginia, There Is an Asthma Gene

Published Online: Saturday, October 1, 2005

Researchers have discovered a gene that seems to influence susceptibility to asthma. Furthermore, the CYFIP2 protein produced by the gene could serve as a target for new asthma drugs, according to a study reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (July 15, 2005).

In an earlier study, the researchers connected mapped areas on chromosome 5 in patients with allergic asthma. For the current study, the researchers took the evidence a step beyond by identifying a gene in this region that influences asthma vulnerability. The investigators performed genetic screening in 155 families with asthma. The results showed 6 DNA changes that affect the development of asthma. These mutations were found in a gene for CYFIP2. Further examination suggested that CYFIP2 impacts the risk of asthma by affecting the function of T cells. The investigators said that more testing is needed to explain how changes in these cells may promote asthma.

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