Glaxo Wellcome PLC said today it is close to identifying the human genes that may cause migraines, adult-onset diabetes and psoriasis.
The company said it hopes identifying the genes will help develop medicines to prevent or treat the illnesses, although no discoveries of such genes have been translated into medicines.
"The research we are reporting does not mean that we can provide cures for the diseases overnight, but it certainly provides us with a much better understanding of the genes involved," said Allen Roses, the drugmaker's co-director of exploratory science. "In the very near future, we hope to understand which gene or genes make some people susceptible to these common but debilitating diseases."
Roses was to present his detailed findings at the American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting in San Francisco.
The findings are the result of a collaboration between Glaxo Wellcome, Duke University, the American Diabetes Association, Griffith University and the Swedish Psoriasis Group, Glaxo Wellcome said.
The technique to isolate genes is called single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mapping. Comparing the SNP map from a group of people who have a disease with another from people who don't allows researchers to focus on a very small section of DNA.
In 1993, Roses announced his lab had discovered that people who inherit a certain version of a gene called Apoe have a high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.