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Researchers Identify Gene Associated With Cold Sore Outbreaks

Image from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Dr. Hermann

Investigators identified a specific, previously obscure human gene associated with susceptibility to herpes simplex labialis (HSL), the common cold sore.

Cold sores affect 70% of the U.S. population. This study follows previous ones identifying a region of chromosome 21 as a base for genes possibly linked to cold sore outbreaks.

To narrow in further on the chromosome, this study used single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping in genome-wide, family-based linkage studies of 618 people from 43 large families. The investigators found a positive link between the frequency of outbreaks, hereditability and the presence of a specific gene, C21orf91, on chromosome 21. Results appeared in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Now, the researchers propose that C21orf91 be designated the Cold Sore Susceptibility Gene-1 (CSSG1).

An editorialist pointed out that if confirmed, additional research may then begin to determine possible therapies, as well as examine if the same gene also plays another role in the body.

“The rapidly decreasing cost of next generation sequencing opens up a host of new gene hunting strategies, especially for rare variants of large effect,” the editorial states. “The spotlight now falls on C21orf91, first for replication of these results, then for functional studies, perhaps in the future for therapeutic applications, and, also, for studies to determine whether it plays a similar role in recurrent genital herpes.”

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*


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