Researchers have identified a key gene linked to peanut allergies. This could allow for new treatment options in the future and could have implications for other allergies as well. The gene, called c11orf30/EMSY (or “EMSY”) was found by scientists from the University of British Columbia in Canada and findings were published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

“Food allergy is the result of both genetic and environmental factors,” said Dr. Denise Daley from St Paul’s HOspital in Vancouver. “But there are surprisingly few data regarding the genetic basis of this condition.”

DNA from 850 people with peanut allergy was analyzed for the study.

The genes from those peanut allergy sufferers were compared to those of 1,000 people without peanut allergy. Looking at 7.5 million genetic markers, the researchers found that EMSY was associated with an increased risk of peanut allergy and other food allergies as well. Five other gene locations were also identified as being involved.

“One of the hurdles in developing new treatments for food allergies is identifying the specific genes and pathways we need to target,” said Dr Aida Eslami, a co-first author on the paper, in a statement. “These results suggest that EMSY could be a useful target for predicting and managing food allergy treatments in the future.”

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