Suffering From Mouth Ulcers? Genomic Analysis Can Help

Updated March 22, 2019

If you've had to deal with canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers, you know how miserable they can be. The inflammatory condition causes open sores in the mouth that are painful and sensitive to the touch. They range from mild to severe, with some patients unable to eat during an outbreak. For a while, the best thing you could do was use a salt rinse or an over-the-counter medication to help ease the symptoms. However, a recent discovery has found that there's a link between genetics and a predisposition to mouth ulcers.

Study Reveals Genetic Association

In Bristol, scientists and investigators have analyzed over 800,000 genomic profiles from people in the UK and USA, and have found a whopping 97 genetic variations that are linked to mouth ulcers. The genes responsible for canker sores have also been linked in genetic pathways that are responsible for other conditions. These conditions include psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Additionally, according to GEN, researchers have discovered that 8.2 percent of the cases are heritable, meaning they're passed down from parent to child. To verify the results, scientists compared this study to three others and came up with a confirmation.

Breakthrough in Treatment Next?

The results of the study have encouraged researchers to begin looking into possible treatments for the mouth ulcers. Since the condition is also linked to psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, they're considering that the same drugs used for these conditions might be able to help with these canker sores.

Where prior treatment included drugs that potentially introduced additional side effects, scientists hope that they can come up with a specialized treatment, a more definitive way of not only treating the ulcers while they're present but also preventing them from coming back in the future.

What's Next?

When it comes to genomic studies, breakthroughs happen consistently. Over the past several decades, people have learned more about genetics which has, in turn, propelled treatment endeavors, some of which are highly innovative. With more information, it's possible to discover treatment methods that could prove to be more helpful than what's on the market today.

The participants in the study included those from the UK Biobank and genomic profiles from the United States, particularly those from 23andMe. The majority of the participants were female with 10.2 percent of participants from the UK reporting having canker sores within the last year and 72.4 percent of American participants reporting that they had them at least once in their lifetime.

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