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First Evidence for a Genetic Cause for Barrett's Esophagus

Genetic variations that are linked with the onset of Barrett's esophagus (BE), a pre-cancerous condition of the lower end of the gullet, have been identified for the first time. The discovery of variations in regions on two chromosomes makes it possible to develop screening tests for people at high risk of developing the disease.

Although it's been thought for some time that there may be genetic causes for BE as well as environmental ones, such as drinking alcohol and eating fatty food, so far researchers have not found any genetic variations that are associated with the condition.

Now, a multi-national team of researchers led by Professor Janusz Jankowski of the Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science at Queen Mary, University of London (UK), has identified genetic variations on chromosome 6p21 and on chromosome 16q24. Their research is published online September 9 in Nature Genetics.

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