Researchers from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, and Britain have found three new genes that are likely to cause immune disorders.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a common autoimmune disease that usually affects women, especially those of childbearing age. China has more than one million people diagnosed with SLE.
Symptoms include fatigue, fever, muscle and joint pains, and a red rash on the face. The disease may lead to organ failure, brain dysfunction,subsequent infections, and become life threatening in severe cases.
The cause of SLE is not clear, but previous studies have shown that genetic factors play an important role. There is no cure for the disease.
More than 80 susceptibility loci of SLE have been identified through genome-wide association studies. Researchers have not only verified the well-established genes, but also identified three new risk ones. They are ST3AGL4, MFHAS1, and CSNK2A2.
The research, jointly undertaken by the First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University (FAHAMU), the University of Hong Kong, Guangzhou Medical University, and King's College London, was published recently in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
"The discovery of these risk genes will help us understand the genetic mechanisms of SLE. It will also shed light on the development of new drugs and clinical applications of gene study," said Sheng Yujun, lead researcher at FAHAMU.