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New genetic links to eczema uncovered

More genetic links to eczema found
Photo: More genetic links to eczema found
New research has uncovered 10 new genetic links to eczema, raising hopes for better treatment for the skin condition.

Ten new genetic links to eczema have been uncovered that could lead to greater understanding of the skin condition, as well as potential treatments.

The research by a British-led team of international scientists brings the total number of genetic variants linked to eczema to 31.

In the biggest genetic investigation of eczema ever conducted, the team analysed the DNA of 377,000 people participating in 40 research studies worldwide.

The scientists looked for small changes in the genetic code associated with higher rates of disease.

For more dermatology articles, click here. 
All the genes involved play a role in regulating the immune system, they reported in the journal Nature Genetics.

Eczema, which affects millions of individuals across the world, is characterised by red patches of itchy, dry and broken skin.

It is driven by inflammation and most common in people who suffer from allergies. Eczema can be brought on by a wide range of environmental triggers, including soaps and detergents, perfumes, clothing, jewellery, certain foods and even extremes of weather.

A number of those taking part in the new research had been recruited to the Bristol-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (Alspac). Also known as the Children of the 90s study, Alspac was set up to look for genetic and environmental factors affecting the childhood development of thousands of individuals.

Dr Lavinia Paternoster, from the Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, said: "Though the genetic variants identified in this current study represent only a small proportion of the risk for developing eczema .. they do give new insights into important disease mechanisms and through on-going research in this area these findings could be turned into treatments of the future."

Co-author Dr Sara Brown, from the University of Dundee, said: "Eczema runs in families so we know that genetic factors are an important part of the cause.

"The very large numbers of participants in this research has allowed us to 'fine-tune' our understanding of eczema genetic risk, providing more detail on how the skin immune system can go wrong in eczema.'

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