Thursday, December 1, 2011

First Gene to be Linked with Herpes-Related Cold Sores

Today it was released that researchers from the University of Utah and University of Massachusetts identified the first gene related to Herpes cold sores found in the human genome. Herpes is an infection caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 that affects more than 70% of the US population. Once infected, HSV-1 never leaves the body, and lies dormant until reactivated. Among infected HSV-1 people, the reactivation and outbreak of cold sores is random and occurs for unknown reasons.
Scientists today believe there are three contributing factors to the reactivation of HSV-1: the virus itself, genetic susceptibility, and environmental factors. The goal of the this team was to identify the gene that could link itself to the frequency of reactivation of the cold sore.
John Kriesel, M.D., who lead the study, said that his team used SNP genotyping to identify DNA sequence variations among infected and uninfected participants. They then used different methods to identify a genetic association between the DNA variations and frequent cold sore outbreaks.
They found that a gene called C21orf91 was associated with HSL susceptibility, and identified 5 major variations of this gene, 2 of which seemed to protect against the virus, and 2 of which seemed to increase the likelihood of having frequent outbreaks.
While there is currently no cure or preventative measures for HSV-1, this data could potentially help develop drugs that affect the cold sore frequency.


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