DNA Clue to Rheumatoid Arthritis, Discovered

November 7, 2007 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

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A genetic link to rheumatoid arthritis has been uncovered by University of Manchester researchers led by Prof Jane Worthington and her team at the Arthritis Research Campaign’s Epidemiology Unit.

A variant in the DNA which raises risk of disease has been identified, thereby leading to a greater understanding of the disease’s cause which hopefully will lead to more effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.

The team used blood samples from more than 5000 patients to test nine DNA regions thought to raise susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis, identified as part of a Wellcome Trust funded £9 million effort to scan the genetics of common diseases.

Now one of them, located on one of the bundles of DNA in cells (chromosome 6), has been confirmed as raising the risk of the inflammation that causes the disease.

Findings have been reported recently at the journal Nature Genetics.

There has only been two other genes known that can explain about half of the inherited susceptibility of rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers are now working to understand how this newly found DNA variant influences the development of the disease, the course of the disease, and the response to treatment.

According to Prof Jane Worthington:

“This is a very exciting result; the validation of this association takes us one step closer to understanding the genetic risk factors behind what is a debilitating disease for sufferers and an expensive disease for the NHS.

Although this variant is not located in a gene, that it may influence the behaviour of a nearby gene: tumour necrosis factor induced protein (TNFAIP3) as this is a gene that is known to be involved in inflammation.”

Affecting up to one per cent of the adult population (in the UK alone, there are 387, 000 patients) – rheumatoid arthritis – is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect nearly all joints in the body (particularly the hands and feet) in which complications such as lung disease can occur.

According to Dr Anne Barton, a clinician on the Manchester team:

“Rheutmatoid arthritis is a complex, heterogeneous disease with some people suffering inflammation of the hands and feet which comes and goes while others develop a progressive form which can quite rapidly result in marked disability.

We believe the genetic marker we have found may determine who develops rheumatoid arthritis or how severe the disease becomes.”

Well, this is one step among the many yet to taken. Who knows, one day we may not worry anymore about arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Meanwhile, we can only prevent or alleviate the symptoms.

Source: UK Telegraph

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