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Gene discovery offers hope for arthritis patients

October 22, 2007 14:41 IST

For people with severe arthritis, even hope can hurt. But, for optimists, here's some good news -- scientists have discovered two genes, which could predict a disabling form of spondylitis in later life.

 

Yes, researchers have identified the two genes that significantly increase the risk of ankylose spondylitis which causes inflammation in the joints between vertebrae and can lead to bone erosion and the fusion of bones in the spine. The discovery could not only lead to early diagnosis but would also facilitate more effective treatment, The Daily Telegraph reported.

 

"The identification of these genes points the way very clearly to new methods of suppressing inflammation in ankylose spondylitis. It is a very exciting discovery. There are existing experimental treatments for other inflammatory conditions that

could be used to improve the treatment of the condition," according to researcher Paul Wordsworth.

 

In fact, Wordsworth and his team at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, identified the genes after comparing the genetic make-up of 1,000 patients suffering from the condition with that of 1,500 healthy individuals. The researchers found that variations of the two genes, both of which influence immune system functioning, were linked to the condition.

 

"Clinically, these diseases tend to occur together people with inflammatory bowel disease also tend to have a higher probability of having ankylose spondylitis and psoriasis. One gene, IL23R, provides a genetic link that sheds new light on their co-occurrence," another researcher Prof Lon Cardon was quoted as saying. Their findings have been reported in the latest edition of the Nature Genetics Journal.

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