New disease gene discovery sheds light on cause of bone marrow failure

The study, published in The American Journal of Human Genetics, detected and identified a new disease gene (ERCC6L2). In its normal form, the gene plays a key role in protecting DNA from damaging agents, but when the gene is mutated the cell is not able to protect itself in the normal way.

The research findings suggest that the and the subsequent DNA damage was the underlying cause of failure among the study participants.

Bone marrow failure is a term used for a group of life threatening disorders associated with an inability of the bone marrow to make an adequate number of mature blood cells.

Patients were recruited from all over the world to join an international bone marrow failure registry and researchers used new DNA sequencing technologies to study cases of bone marrow failure with similar clinical features. These included bone marrow failure associated with neurological abnormalities (learning defects and developmental delay), and patients whose parents were first cousins.

The findings mean it is now possible to carry out a reliable genetic test (including antenatal testing) in these families and get an accurate diagnosis. In the long term, with further research, the findings could lead to the development of new treatment for this specific gene defect.

Professor Inderjeet Dokal, Chair of Paediatrics and Child Health at Queen Mary University of London, comments:

"New DNA sequencing technology has enabled us to identify and define a new gene defect which causes a particular type of bone marrow failure. This is a promising finding which we hope one day could lead to finding an effective treatment for this type of gene defect. Clinicians treating patients with bone marrow failure should now include analysis for this gene in their investigation.

"Now we know this research technique works, we plan to carry out further studies to shed more light on the genetic basis of many other cases of ."

Related Stories

Key cause of bone marrow failure identified

May 03, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers funded by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and the Medical Research Council (MRC) have identified one of the first steps that can cause bone marrow failure and eventually lead to blood cancers. ...

Recommended for you

A nucleotide change could initiate fragile X syndrome

15 hours ago

Researchers reveal how the alteration of a single nucleotide—the basic building block of DNA—could initiate fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited form of intellectual disability. The study appears ...

Gene clues to glaucoma risk

Aug 31, 2014

Scientists on Sunday said they had identified six genetic variants linked to glaucoma, a discovery that should help earlier diagnosis and better treatment for this often-debilitating eye disease.

Mutation disables innate immune system

Aug 29, 2014

A Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich team has shown that defects in the JAGN1 gene inhibit the function of a specific type of white blood cells, and account for a rare congenital immune deficiency that ...

Study identifies genetic change in autism-related gene

Aug 28, 2014

A new study from Bradley Hospital has identified a genetic change in a recently identified autism-associated gene, which may provide further insight into the causes of autism. The study, now published online in the Journal of ...

NIH issues finalized policy on genomic data sharing

Aug 27, 2014

The National Institutes of Health has issued a final NIH Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) policy to promote data sharing as a way to speed the translation of data into knowledge, products and procedures that improve health while ...

User comments