Shalom Life | April 20, 2014

Study Sheds Light on Crohn’s Disease in Ashkenazi Jews

Five New Genetic Mutations Discovered

By: Leonard Carl

Published: May 15th, 2012 in Health » World

Study Sheds Light on Crohn’s Disease in Ashkenazi Jews

Ashkenazi Jews are four times more likely to be affected by Crohn’s disease than any other group.

Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which affects the intestines, but may occur anywhere from the mouth to the anus. While the exact cause of Crohn's disease is unknown, we do know that it’s an autoimmune disorder which occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue.

Up until now, the reason for the high likelihood of infection within the Ashkenazi group was unknown, but according to an online science journal, researchers have shed light on this phenomenon with the discovery of five new genetic mutations.

According to the March 8th issue of PLoS (Public Library of Science), Prof. Inga Peter, a geneticist at Mount Sinai, led an international research team to search for unique genetic risk factors in Ashkenazi Jews. Peter and her team compared 1,878 Ashkenazi Jews with Crohn’s disease with 4,469 Ashkenazi Jews without it, using DNA samples to determine their genetics. The team found 12 of the known risk variants, but also uncovered five new genetic risk regions on chromosomes (5q21.1, 2p15, 8q21.11, 10q26.3 and 11q12.1).

Funded by the New York Crohn’s Disease foundation, the research team also evaluated previous findings in non- Jewish Europeans with the disease and found that the genetic structure of the regions associated with Crohn’s disease risk in the Ashkenazi Jewish group was much less diverse than that of non-Jewish Europeans.

With this new data, researchers hope analyze the specific signals to pinpoint causal genetic mutations, discover why they are malfunctioning, and eventually develop new treatments.

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