Washington: Scientists claim to have identified a gene that raises one's risk of contracting Kawasaki disease, a rare condition which involves inflammation of the blood vessels and affects mostly children.

A team at Infectious Diseases department of the Genome Institute of Singapore has discovered that the FCGR2A gene is associated with an increased risk of contracting the disease, a journal reported.

In their research, the scientists examined the genetic profiles of 405 children with Kawasaki disease and contrasted them with 6,252 healthy controls in Europe, the US and Australia.

Genetic markers showing potential association with the disease were re-assessed and validated in further 740 affected families, as well as a further 1,028 affected children and 1,512 healthy controls from Asian countries.

In their research, the scientists noted very strong evidence of increased risk of the disease at a gene encoding a protein called FCGR2A. This protein is well known to Kawasaki disease doctors as it's receptor for the intravenous immuno- globulin (IVIG), which is used for treatment.

Their observation highlights the importance of such receptors in the pathogenesis of this inflammatory disease, and thereby provides a biological basis for the use of IVIG for Kawasaki disease treatment.

Until now, researchers were unclear as to how or why the infusion of IVIG worked in treating the disease.

Lead scientist Martin Hibberd said: "The cause and events that lead to Kawasaki disease have been difficult mysteries that are now starting to be revealed, but only because of worldwide efforts such as this.

(Agencies)