Study: Scientists identify 10 genetic variants that increase risk of having allergies

Australian scientists led by QIMR’s Dr. Manuel Ferreira has helped identify 10 genetic variants that increase a person’s risk of having allergies. Dr. Ferreira said the more of the variants a person had, the higher their risk of developing an allergic condition or related issue, like asthma.

“Between 30-50% of people have an allergy of some kind. Early in life,they’ll develop an allergic reaction to pollen, or dust, for example,” Dr. Ferreira said. ‘In this study, we searched for genetic differences between people to explain why some develop allergies, while others don’t.” “This is important because we know that if you become allergic as a child, then you will be at an increased risk of developing asthma, hay fever or eczema later in life.”

The international genetic study was the largest of its kind, comparing the genetic make-up of nearly 6,000 people with allergies and 10,000 people without allergies. It found 10 genetic variants that played a role in allergies. A person’s risk increased depending on how many of these “bad” variants were inherited from their parents. “As a result of this research, we are now certain that these 10 DNA regions contain genes involved in allergies,” Dr. Ferreira said.

“We will now try to understand what specific genes are involved, how they work and if they can be targeted by new drugs to treat or prevent allergic diseases.”

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