Celiac.com 10/07/2009 - A team of Maltese researchers, led by genetics specialist Christian Scerri, has discovered that a previously unassociated gene contributes to the development of celiac disease. The association of the gene, a variant of a gene called CD59, is the result of three years of research at a University of Malta lab.

The research team made the discovery after examining the DNA of six people who suffered from gluten intolerance, together with 9 close relatives.

Armed with about $35,000 in research funds provided by the Malta Council for Science and Technology, the research team set out to examine the DNA of each family member along with their different genes.

"If you have a grandmother, a mother and a son who all suffer from a particular disease, we will look for the part of DNA that is common in all three," Scerri said.

Once the researchers isolated the matching parts of the DNA, the researchers begging combing through all the different genes in that section of the DNA.

Several prior studies have shown that only people with a certain type of the molecule human leukocyte antigen, called