A new gene that causes the severe form of osteoarthritis, which occurs when cartilage breaks down in a joint, has been identified by Oz researchers.
The breakthrough by the doctors at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, could pave the way for new effective drugs that could treat arthritis and possibly other chronic pain conditions.
The genetic discovery was based on a study of four generations of a Victorian family that suffer from a severe form of hand osteoarthritis.
Prof Ravi Savarirayan of Victorian Clinical Genetics Services said that the researchers who studied the family found that all family members who were affected by osteoarthritis had the faulty gene TRPV4.
"This Victorian family could help people all over the world with very common forms of osteoarthritis," the Herald Sun quoted Prof Savarirayan as saying.
He said the discovery had massive implications if the same gene played a significant role in other forms of arthritis.
The findings are published in Nature Genetics.