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Study finds DNA links to diseases

A groundbreaking study involving 200 experts has heralded a new chapter in medical science by unravelling genetic links to seven common diseases.

The 50 research groups netted the genes by screening DNA samples from 17,000 people across the UK.

The investigation published in the journal Nature is the biggest study of the genetics behind common diseases ever undertaken.

It has revealed new genetic links associated with the development of bipolar disorder, Crohn's disease, heart disease, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and high blood pressure.

Many of the genes discovered are in regions of the human genome not previously thought to be related to disease.

One of the most exciting finds is a previously unknown link between type 1 diabetes and Crohn's disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disorder.

A gene called PTPN2 was found to be common to both autoimmune diseases, suggesting that they share similar biological pathways.

The £9m investigation, funded by the Wellcome Trust, is one of the UK's largest and most successful scientific collaborations to date.

Over the course of two years, the teams analysed almost 10 billion pieces of genetic information.

Professor Peter Donnelly, from Oxford University, said: "Many of the most common diseases are very complex, part 'nature' and 'nurture', with genes interacting with our environment and lifestyles.

"By identifying the genes underlying these conditions, our study should enable scientists to understand better how disease occurs, which people are most at risk and, in time, to produce more effective, more personalised treatments."


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