SAN DIEGO: A research team says it has discovered a mutated gene which makes people susceptible to asthma. The study, conducted by San Diego-based Sequana Therapeutics, focused on a remote population of people on the Island of Tristan da Cunha, located about 1,500 miles southwest of South Africa. Approximately 30 percent of the island's citizens have asthma, which they apparently inherited from an original settler. After studying the DNA of 300 inhabitants, the team was able to pinpoint the location of the gene, potentially paving the way for new drugs which can treat or perhaps cure the ailment which has skyrocketed worldwide over the past two decades. Beyond the island's small population, the researchers say, the mutated gene seems to affect asthmatics in the United States, Canada and Australia. But while the discovery may eventually help asthmatics to breathe easier, the epidemic may never go away until its environmental causes are conclusively identified.