Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology vol:4 issue:3
The development of most autoimmune diseases includes a strong heritable component. This genetic contribution to disease ranges from simple Mendelian inheritance of causative alleles to the complex interactions of multiple weak loci influencing risk. The genetic variants responsible for disease are being discovered through a range of strategies from linkage studies to genome-wide association studies. Despite the rapid advances in genetic analysis, substantial components of the heritable risk remain unexplained, either owing to the contribution of an as-yet unidentified, "hidden," component of risk, or through the underappreciated effects of known risk loci. Surprisingly, despite the variation in genetic control, a great deal of conservation appears in the biological processes influenced by risk alleles, with several key immunological pathways being modified in autoimmune diseases covering a broad spectrum of clinical manifestations. The primary translational potential of this knowledge is in the rational design of new therapeutics to exploit the role of these key pathways in influencing disease. With significant further advances in understanding the genetic risk factors and their biological mechanisms, the possibility of genetically tailored (or "personalized") therapy may be realized.