Chinese scientists identify six new leprosy gene variants

February 4, 2015 5:55 am 

JINAN, Feb. 3 — Chinese scientists have identified six new genetic predispositions for leprosy, which will inform treatment research.

The findings were published online in the world-renowned scientific journal "Nature Genetics" on Tuesday after a study involving 8,313 samples.

A research team from the Shandong Provincial Institute of Dermatology and Venereology in east China, over the course of four years worked with institutions from Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

So far, Chinese scientists have identified 18 genetic predispositions for leprosy.

The research team set up a risk prediction model based on the 18 genes and initiated experiments last year in 10 counties and cities in Shandong Province, said Zhang Furen, the team leader.

"The establishment of the model makes early diagnosis of leprosy a possibility and is the first step to translating our findings into practical technology," said Zhang Guocheng, executive deputy director of the dermatology and venereology control center with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Leprosy is primarily characterized by skin lesions and progressive physical disability, and can cause permanent nerve damage.

More than 200,000 new cases of leprosy are reported worldwide every year. About 1,000 new cases are reported in china every year. (PNA/Xinhua)



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