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American and other researchers have discovered five new genetic mutations that make Ashkenazi Jews four times more likely than other populations to develop Crohn’s disease.
The online journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) reported the discovery in its March 8th issue.
The findings, from a multicenter study, are the first step in an attempt to explain why Ashkenazi Jews are at significantly higher risk for the disorder, which is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Crohn’s is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue in the gastrointestinal track, causing chronic inflammation.
Crohn’s usually affects the intestines, which are continually inflamed and thick, but it can occur anywhere from the mouth to the end of the rectum. In this condition, the body overreacts to normal bacteria in the intestines While it can occur at any age, the typical ages of onset are between 15 and 35. People at high risk include smokers, those with a family history of Crohn’s and Jews of Ashkenazi origin, but until now, the defective genes had not been identified.
Previous studies had identified 71 genetic variants of Crohn’s disease risk in people, especially Jews of central and eastern European ancestry. Peter and her team conducted a two-step genome-wide association study comparing 1,878 Ashkenazi Jews with Crohn’s disease to 4,469 Ashkenazi Jews without the disease, using DNA samples to evaluate their genetic make-up. The research team found 12 of the known risk variants, but also discovered five new genetic risk regions on chromosomes (5q21.1, 2p15, 8q21.11, 10q26.3 and 11q12.1).
A number of genetic disorders occur more frequently in certain ethnic populations.In the Ashkenazi Jewish population (those of Eastern European descent), it has been estimated that one in four individuals is a carrier of one of several genetic conditions.These diseases include Tay-Sachs Disease, Canavan, Niemann-Pick, Gaucher, Familial Dysautonomia, Bloom Syndrome, Fanconi anemia, Cystic Fibrosis and Mucolipidosis IV.Some of these diseases may be severe and may result in the early death of a child.Carrier screening is available for all of these diseases with a simple blood test. ...
Ashkenazi Jewish Genetic Diseases