Experts identify genes linked to chronic diseases

HONG KONG Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:08pm EDT

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Researchers in South Korea have identified genes that are linked to key indicators such as blood pressure and bone density that have a bearing on chronic diseases such as hypertension and osteoporosis.

In an article published in Nature Genetics, the scientists said they studied the DNA of nearly 9,000 people in South Korea and were able to identify genes that controlled indicators such as blood pressure, bone density, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, height and pulse rate.

"We found some genes affecting systolic blood pressure, bone density etc," Hyung-Lae Kim of the National Institute of Health in Seoul, South Korea, told Reuters by telephone.

These bodily measurements affect key chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, obesity and osteoporosis that are becoming massive problems in many countries.

And knowing which genes are involved can potentially open the way for better prevention, management and control of these conditions in the future.

Such genetic studies have been carried out in Caucasian populations, but less so among Asians.

"The study also found new gene variants that either confer health risks specific to Asian ancestry or which show greater effects in combination with environmental factors prevalent in Asia," the researchers said in a statement.

(Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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