Scientists Find DNA Cause Behind Nut Allergies

Scientists have discovered a gene that is linked to peanut allergies, a find that could help doctors treat the medical condition.

They reported their research in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, pointing the finger at a gene that has already been found to be connected to other allergy conditions. The gene, c11orf30/EMSY, or EMSY for short, carries “a risk … for both peanut and food allergy,” the study says.

Although it has been associated with allergy conditions like eczema and asthma, this is the first time it has been linked to food allergies.

“These findings suggest that the gene plays an important role in the development of not just food allergy but also general allergic predisposition,” the University of British Columbia said in a statement.

To find ESMY’s link to peanut allergies, the scientists performed a genetic analysis on 850 Canadian people with the allergy and 926 without it, and compared those results to other genetic analyses performed in other countries, the study explains. They were searching for genes that might put people at greater risk for developing an allergy to food and found that ESMY fit the bill.

The team also found five other genes that could be involved in these allergies.

“Food allergy is the result of both genetic and environmental factors, but there are surprisingly few data regarding the genetic basis of this condition,” researcher Dr. Denise Daley said in the statement. “The discovery of this genetic link gives us a fuller picture of the causes of food allergies, and this could eventually help doctors identify children at risk.”

Peanut allergies are among the most common food allergies, but scientists are finding the genes responsible for this medical condition. Photo: CC0 Creative Commons

Genes connected to peanut allergies have previously been identified, but having additional clues into how these conditions manifest themselves could lead to more accurate diagnostic tests and better treatments…

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