Researchers in the Division of Pathway Medicine and the Roslin Institute call for better understanding of the genetic basis of susceptibility to infectious disease

Researchers from the Division of Pathway Medicine and the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, have recently called for the need for better understanding of the genetic basis of susceptibility to infectious disease.

They also argue that this knowledge has to be applied to develop a stratified medicine approach for managing patients with infectious diseases.

Stratfied infection medicine:  a call to arms, Clark D Russell, Samantha J Griffiths, J Kenneth Baillie and Juergen Haas; The Lancet Infections Diseases, 2014, vol14 p451

L to R:  Clark Russell, Samatha Griffiths, Kenneth Baillie and Juergen Haas

The authors write that unlike cancer treatment, where clinicians routinely apply knowledge of both the patient's and the tumour's genotypes when devising therapeutic strategies, this is not the case when treating infectious diseases. 

Susceptibility to infection highly heritable

Nevertheless it is becoming increasingly clear that human susceptibility to infectious diseases is strongly heritable.  In particular they highlight a specific polymorphism associated with susceptibility to infection with hepatitis C and herpes simplex virus 1, and another associated with risk of severe infection with influenza A. 

The authors conclude by urging open-source cooperation amongst clinicians and researchers engaged with infectious diseases, since only such a broad-based and dynamic strategy can generate the necessary patient cohorts to facilitate a robust understanding of how genes affect the susceptibility of people to infectious diseases.

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