Study also confirmed importance of autophagy in Crohn’s.

The Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, which has examined DNA samples from 17,000 people across the U.K., published its results of finding a gene linking Crohn’s and type 1 diabetes, in the journals Nature and Nature Genetics.

The study has increased the number of genes known to play a role in the development of some of the most common diseases. Many of these genes that have been found are in areas of the genome not previously thought to have been related to the diseases.

Among the most significant new findings are four chromosome regions containing genes that can predispose to type 1 diabetes and three new genes for Crohn’s disease. For the first time, the researchers have found a gene, PTPN2, linking these two autoimmune diseases. The study has also confirmed the importance of a process known as autophagy in the development of Crohn’s disease.

Research from the Consortium has already played a major part in identifying the clearest genetic link yet to obesity and three new genes linked to type 2 diabetes published in April in advance of the main study.

Researchers analyzed DNA samples taken from people in the U.K.—2,000 patients for each disease and 3,000 control samples—to identify common genetic variations for seven major diseases. These are bipolar disorder, Crohn’s disease, coronary heart disease, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

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