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Arthritis gene identified

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Now, a simple blood test could revolutionize the treatment of arthritis for hundreds of thousands of sufferers, as British and Irish scientists have identified a gene that is linked to rheumatoid arthritis – especially in severe forms of the disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the joints by mistake, causing painful inflammation and stiffness. The wrists, fingers, toes, ankles and knees are particularly susceptible, and current drugs, which merely tackle the symptoms, do not work for everyone.

Rheumatoid arthritis is three times more common in women than men and can cause such fatigue and disability that makes half of sufferers give up work within ten years of diagnosis. It also increases the risk of other conditions, including heart and lung disease.

Breakthrough study

Researchers from the University of Sheffield and University College Dublin studied samples from more than 1,000 Britons, and have identified a gene called C5orf30 as key to rheumatoid arthritis.

A flawed version of the gene was found in those with the condition, but not in those with other forms of arthritis or in healthy people. The rogue gene was particularly strongly linked to severe forms of the disease, in which a sufferer’s health deteriorated rapidly, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.

The results of the study indicate that if patients were tested early on to see if they had the gene, they could then receive more targeted treatment and be fast-tracked for the most powerful medications. The breakthrough also paves the way for new drugs.

Hope for the future

In future, patients could be given a simple blood test when they are first diagnosed with arthritis. This could help doctors work out the most suitable drug to give to different patients.

Those thought to be most at risk could also receive more powerful drugs usually reserved for later in the course of the disease, which could delay the progression of their illness and greatly improve their quality of life.

According to Jane Tadman, of Arthritis Research UK, “…identifying blood or tissue markers that help to target the right drug to the right patient at the right time – so-called stratified or personalised medicine – is a priority area and something we are investing in heavily… The new findings from this group could take us a step closer to that goal, so that patients can be given drugs we know will work for them early in their disease that will prevent or minimise joint damage.”

Other findings and solutions

The study also showed that people with severe rheumatoid arthritis had very low levels of a protein made by the C5orf30 gene in their joints. This suggests that raising levels could help protect the joints.

As Sheffield researcher Dr Munitta Muthana puts it, “people with rheumatoid arthritis could be given a top-up of the protein in the same way as diabetics are given insulin”. However, more research is needed in this area.

John Church, of Arthritis Ireland, which part-funded the study, said: ‘The outlook for a person diagnosed with arthritis in 2015 is much brighter than it used to be.’

#RheumatoidArthritis #JoinPain #Gene #GeneticCauses #Arthritis #ArthritisResearch

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This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.

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This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.

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