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Linking a Sore Point to Heredity

Study finds recurrent cold sores are hereditary

MONDAY, Nov. 25, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Do you suffer from recurrent cold sores? Well, it may run in your family.

University of Utah researchers say it's likely that people who are predisposed to cold sores have inherited that trait through one of six genes.

Cold sores are actually caused by the herpes simplex virus. Most people are infected with this virus, but only certain people suffer from frequent cold sores. The researchers traced cold sore susceptibility to a region of six genes on human chromosome 21.

They did a mathematical analysis and found that the odds of linkage from one of the six genes on chromosome 21 to cold sores stands at 2,500:1. That's strong enough to indicate a connection, according to the researchers who presented their finding at the recent Infectious Disease Society of America's annual meeting.

They say more research is needed to determine which of those six suspect genes is actually the culprit that makes some people suffer more cold sores.

Cold sores are more than an uncomfortable annoyance. They can lead to more serious problems such as ocular herpes - which can cause blindness - and genital herpes.

More Information

Here's where to go to learn more about cold sores.

SOURCE: University of Utah, news release, November 2002
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