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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Harvard Finds Newly Found Genes Affecting Allergies and Asthma Could Provide New Drug Targets

Allergies affect 30 percent of people around the world and asthma afflicts 10 percent of all children. Now, a new study has uncovered more than 30 genes that have strong effects on allergies, asthma, and Immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody that triggers allergic responses. Among these genes are promising new potential drug targets for treating allergies and asthma.

The study appeared online February 18 in the journal Nature. Dr. Liming Liang, assistant professor of statistical genetics at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was lead author of the study.

The researchers — in the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Canada — using a novel technique known as an epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) also found that the genes are concentrated in eosinophils, a white cell that ignites inflammation in asthmatic airways. The genes indicate when the eosinophils are activated and primed to cause the most damage. Read more