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Abstract

Abstract

Epidemiological and twin studies have demonstrated that asthma is under genetic and environmental influences. Numerous candidate gene association studies as well as genome-wide linkage scans have followed, aiming to elucidate the genetic architecture underlying this complex disease. Several promising asthma susceptibility genes were identified, and a comprehensive catalogue of these genes seems a realistic goal within 5 to 10 years. However, a key challenge is to understand the combination of genes and environmental factors that gives rise to the disease in a specific individual. Currently, most of the reports of asthma susceptibility genes are either preliminary or controversial, with little knowledge about the genetic mechanisms leading to abnormal function of the gene that promotes the development of asthma. Replications of published associations are relatively few. Many factors, including the inherent complexity of asthma as well as methodological issues, can explain these inconsistencies. Promising genetic tools are emerging with the completion of the International HapMap Project that will increase the scope of gene-discovery investigations. It is hoped that these tools, combined with validation studies in additional populations, will enable the creation of a comprehensive catalogue of susceptibility genes for asthma. Notwithstanding the difficulties in making sense of the vast amount of new genetic data, we already see the emergence of new biological pathways of atopy, airway remodeling, and asthma that may lead to novel therapeutic approaches.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.med.58.071105.111738
2007-02-18
2024-06-20
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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