US asthma researchers have replicated results of a 2007 European study, which identified the ORMDL3 gene as a contributor to asthma in British and German children. Now, US researchers have found that the ORMDL3 gene plays a similar role in Caucasian American children, but not in African American children.

“We replicated the European findings among American children, and showed that the gene plays a role in asthma of any severity level,” says Hakon Hakonarson MD, PhD, lead researcher from the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. “Through the testing of additional markers, our data suggest that other genes outside the region occupied by ORMLD3 might have important roles in raising susceptibility to asthma.”

The research team plans to continue to investigate the role of genes in raising the susceptibility to asthma. “Because asthma is a very heterogeneous disease, the genes involved in childhood-onset asthma may be very different from those involved in asthma that first appears in adults,” says Hakonarson. “The biological mechanisms by which genetic variants contribute to asthma are not well understood.”

The results were published as a brief online report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.