Researchers at the University of Manchester have identified a gene variant which leads to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the most inflammatory arthritis among common inflammatory arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis affects up to 1 percent of the adult population and is a chronic inflammatory disease that attacks almost all joints in the body, mainly the hands and feet.
The patients of this disease often undergo lung problems. In addition to this they are also prone to from cardiovascular disease and some cancers which can be fatal. With a very few god responses to the medication, most of the patients take the pain of life span disability.
According to Professor Jane Worthington and her team at the Arthritis Research Campaign (arc) Epidemiology unit, there were 9 genetic regions known as potentially harbouring DNA variants that decide the susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis. Even though the DNA variant is not located in a gene, scientists have recommended that it may control the behaviour of a nearby gene like the tumour necrosis factor associated protein (TNFAIP3) as it is a gene that is involved in inflammatory processes.
Till now only two other genes were known to explain 50 percent of genetically determined susceptibility. Now the Manchester researchers are working to understand how the variation within the chromosome 6q region influences the development of RA, the course of the disease and the response to treatment.
"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," Nature quoted Worthington, as saying. "We are indebted to the Arthritis Research Campaign (arc) for their longstanding support of this research and for recognizing the importance of establishing large well characterized cohorts of RA patients.
"This study was made possible by the fantastic collaboration of scientists from five other groups around the UK who helped us to assemble an impressive cohort of over 5,000 samples from RA patients for this experiment. Their continued collaboration will be significant in ensuring the continued progress of this research," she added.
Dr Anne Barton, a clinician on the team, said: "RA is a complex, heterogeneous disease with some people suffering inflammation of the hands and feet which comes and goes whilst 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 RA or how severe the disease becomes."
The study is published in the latest issue of Nature Genetics.