Data about who has what disease holds a lot of clues about the diseases themselves and their causes. Researchers at the University of Chicago undertook a data mining effort to figure out what genetic and environmental patterns that a few dozen common diseases share with each other. The team gathered data from insurance claims related to more than a third of the U.S. population, identified about 130,000 families within this data set, and found a bunch of well known as well as newly discovered disease matchings that may help to study their causes and identify treatment options from existing knowledge.
As a particularly interesting and surprising example, the team has shown that migraine seems to be genetically related to irritable bowel syndrome and environmentally related to cystitis and urethritis.
Of course one can’t immediately use this data in a clinical setting, but perhaps therapies for a condition may be effective for others that turn out to be related. As with example above, it may turn out that drugs that work for irritable bowel syndrome may also work for addressing migraines.
More research has to be done to harness these findings, but what’s particularly exciting is finding out the relations between seemingly unrelated diseases and how complex our bodies really are.
Study in journal Nature Genetics: Classification of common human diseases derived from shared genetic and environmental determinants…