The findings - published in Human Immunology - build on earlier research by The University of Manchester team that had already associated one of these genes with the condition.
The discovery of two further risk genes, say the paper's authors, is a major step forward in understanding the causes of cot death or `sudden infant death syndrome' (SIDS).
“We first identified an association between SIDS and specific variants of a gene called Interleukin-10 five years ago,” said microbiologist Dr David Drucker, who led the research. “Quite simply, a baby who had particular variations of this gene was at greater risk of SIDS than other babies.
“Now, we have discovered two more genes implicated in SIDS and when a baby has certain genetic variants or `polymorphisms' of all three of these genes he or she can be up to 14 times more likely to die from the condition.”
The genes investigated by the team all play a roll in the body's immune response to infection. Previous research, carried out with colleagues at Lancaster University, had shown that SIDS is associated with commonly occurring bacteria that babies up to the age of one year may lack immunity to.
Infants aged two to four months, in particular, have very weak immune systems and may not cope well with infectious agents they encounter in their environment.
Interleukin-10 (IL-10), as well as the other two genes - Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) – are involved in the production of chemicals called cytokines which are important for the correct functioning of our immune system.
Specific variants of these cytokine-producing genes, says the research, leads to an excessive inflammatory response to bacterial infection resulting in cot death. In the case of VEGF, the polymorphism associated with SIDS could conceivably result in poor fetal lung development.
“This research greatly advances our understanding of the basic causes of SIDS, which is not a single disease but a collection of different causes of death,” said Dr Drucker, who carried out the work in collaboration with paediatric pathologist Dr Anthony Barson.
“Being able to detect high-risk babies means that health care and social provision can be aimed at the most vulnerable infants. In theory, commercially available and licensed human immune serum could be given to those children most at risk.”
Dr Drucker, whose previous work has also explained why smoking and sleeping position are also risk factors in SIDS, says this latest research will help establish the cause of death in certain cases.
“Forensic scientists would be able to assess the likelihood of a baby dying from SIDS through genetic measurements and so help prevent the sort of tragic miscarriages of justice that have happened in the past.
“But ultimately, this research will improve our ability to identify in advance which babies will be at risk of SIDS so their mothers can be personally advised to eliminate other risk factors such as dangerous sleeping position for their infant.”
Aeron Haworth | alfa
Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University
What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization
06.12.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences
07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences
07.12.2016 | Materials Sciences