Reseachers identified gene linked to cold sore

Los Angels: Researchers have identified a human chromosome containing a specific gene associated with susceptibility to herpes simplex labialis (HSL), the common cold sore.

HSL outbreaks, or cold sores, are skin infections that appear with the reactivation of herpes simplex virus. Cold sore outbreaks vary in frequency and severity; some people may experience symptoms rarely, once every 5 to 10 years, while others may experience them once a month or more frequently.

In its research, a team, led by John Kriesel at Utah University and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts, followed previous studies identifying a region of chromosome 21 as a base for genes possibly linked to cold sore outbreaks.

To identify which of six possible genes in this region were associated with the frequency of outbreaks, this latest study used single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping in genome-wide, family based linkage studies of 618 people from 43 large families.

The researchers found a positive link between the frequency of outbreaks, hereditability, and the presence of a specific gene, C21or f91, on chromosome 21.

"While these findings await confirmation in a larger, unrelated population", the study authors note, "these findings could have important implications for the development of new drugs that affect determinants of the cold sore phenotype." The findings have been published in the `Journal of Infectious Disease