Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gene responsible for severe congenital skin disease, Harlequin Ichthyosis, identified by Queen Mary team

11.03.2005


The genetic cause of the devastating skin disease Harlequin Ichthyosis has been discovered by a team at Barts and the London, Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry.



In a paper to be published online in April in the American Journal of Human Genetics, Professor David Kelsell, of Queen Mary’s Centre for Cutaneous Research, outlines the recent breakthrough. Harlequin Ichthyosis (HI) is a rare, life threatening condition, where babies are born covered in a thick ‘coat of armour’. The skin dries out to form hard diamond shaped plaques, severely restricting their movement.

Historically, these babies usually die within two days of birth, due to feeding problems, bacterial infection and/or respiratory diseases. But a number of patients now survive, thanks to the wider availability of neonatal care, and developments in treatment. Prof Kelsell said: “The search for the genetic cause of HI has taken more than seven years, with groups in the UK, Japan and US finding the classical linkage analysis techniques unsuccessful. This is largely down to the lethal nature of the condition and the small size of families with the condition. Our breakthrough came from applying SNP array technology.”


The relatively new SNP or ‘Snip’ array technology has made searching for disease genes a much quicker and cheaper process - one which enabled Kelsell and his team to identify the HI gene in a matter of weeks.

SNPs, or single nucleotide polymorphisms, are common but minute variations in the DNA sequence; they occur when just one of the four letters that make up the code swaps places. Each array is the size of a fingernail, and contains over 10,000 of these different SNPs. Identifying an SNP which is consistently inherited with a disease can help point researchers to the ‘linked’ gene that may be ultimately responsible for the condition.

Professor Kelsell’s team looked at individuals from twelve families who are affected with HI; three from the USA; seven from the UK and two from Italy – all from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Using SNP array technology, they were able to pinpoint the area of code responsible for HI, and discovered mutations in the ABCA12 gene that maps in this area, in 11 of the 12 patients studied. Harlequin Ichthyosis affects a number of families in the UK; four children affected by HI, and Professor Kelsell’s discovery, will be the subject of an ITV documentary; Real Lives: the Harlequin Sisters, to be broadcast later this year.

HI is thought to be caused by a defect in the way lipids (fats) are transported and discharged into the top layers of the skin. Normally, tiny spherical grains called lamellar granules migrate upwards through the skin, depositing lipids into the intercellular spaces of the skin’s uppermost layer. These lipids act as a protective barrier against bacteria and infection.

In patients with HI, these lamellar granules are formed abnormally; the ABCA12 gene may play a critical role in their formation, explaining the defects in the epidermal barrier seen in this disorder.

Until now, pre-natal screening tests for HI were often unreliable and inconclusive, involving risky, invasive procedures such as foetal skin biopsies. Professor Kelsell added: “By identifying ABCA12, our team has provided the molecular clue towards understanding the numerous biological abnormalities seen in HI skin, and established the means for early prenatal DNA diagnosis of HI.” The team’s next step will be to investigate the role of ABCA12 in the skin with financial support from BDF: Newlife.

Sian Wherrett | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ajhg.org
http://www.qmul.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bare bones: Making bones transparent
27.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>