Media Advisory

Monday, August 31, 2020

New gene associated with reduced risk for cirrhosis

NIH-funded study provides hope for better disease prediction.

What:

An international team of scientists supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, has identified a novel association between the gene FAF2 and a reduced risk for alcohol-associated liver cirrhosis (ALC) in people who drink heavily. Also confirmed by the study were four additional genes, three previously found to be associated with an increased risk and one with reduced risk of ALC in people who drink heavily. All of the genes appear to be involved in fat metabolism in the liver. ALC is a major source of alcohol–related morbidity and mortality worldwide.  Taken together, the new findings help solidify our understanding of ALC, particularly with regard to the connection between fat metabolism and vulnerability to cirrhosis. Genetic risk factors combined with clinical and phenotype risks, offers the potential for improved disease prediction and the realization of the promise of personalized medicine.

Article:

T-W Schwantes-An, et al. Genome-wide association study and meta-analysis on alcohol-related liver cirrhosis identifies novel genetic risk factors. Hepatology (published online Aug. 28, 2020).

Who:

NIAAA Director George F. Koob, Ph.D., is available to comment on this research.

Funding:

This research was funded by NIAAA grant U01- AA018389 to support an international research consortium -- the GenomALC – the largest genome-wide association study of alcohol-related cirrhosis conducted to date.  Additional support was provided by the Swiss National Funds and the Swiss Foundation for Alcohol Research, and the National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia.

About the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, is the primary U.S. agency for conducting and supporting research on the causes, consequences, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of alcohol use disorder. NIAAA also disseminates research findings to general, professional, and academic audiences. Additional alcohol research information and publications are available at https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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