University of Bonn Research Team Discovers Gallstone Gene

Published: Jul 11, 2007

Scientists at the University of Bonn, together with colleagues from Romania, have discovered a gene variant that significantly increases the risk of developing gallstones (Hepatology No. 46, 11 July 2007, DOI 10.1002/hep.21847). It is estimated that one in ten Europeans has this variant in their hereditary disposition. For those affected, the likelihood of developing a gallstone in the course of their life is two to three times higher. The relevant gene contains the instructions for building a molecular pump which transports cholesterol from the liver into the bile ducts - cholesterol being the substance from which most gallstones are formed. The genetic modification appears to cause this pump to work permanently at high speed. Gallstones are a common disorder: in Germany alone more than 170,000 gallbladder operations a year are performed.

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