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Research links genes to arthritis
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:10 am 
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Scientists have identified at least seven genes that account for the development of a type of arthritis which affects up to one million people in Britain.

It is hoped that the discovery could increase the chances of there being genetic screening for those at risk of developing Paget's disease.

The condition affects the way bone develops and renews itself, potentially leading to enlarged and malformed bones. More people in Britain are affected by the disease than anywhere else in the world.

The study, which was led by the University of Edinburgh, determined that the genes are involved in the way bone renewal and repairs are regulated.

Professor Stuart Ralston, Arthritis Research UK professor of Rheumatology led the research and explained that the results could be a 'major advance' in combating bone disease.

'We have now identified seven genes that predispose people to Paget's. The effect of these is large, and together they considerably increase the risk of developing the condition,' he said.

'Our work shows that these genes together very strongly predict the development of Paget's disease.

'Their effects are so powerful that they could be of real value in screening for risk of the disease. This is important since we know that if treatment is left too late, then irreversible damage to the bones can occur.

'If we were able to intervene at an early stage with preventative therapy, guided by genetic profiling, this would be a major advance.'

The study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, confirms how genes play a crucial role in the development of Paget's disease, explaining why many patients have a family history of the condition.

Researchers funded by Arthritis Research UK and the Paget's Association studied 2,215 patients with the disease to find the genes that could cause the condition.

The team, including scientists from the UK, Australia, Spain, Italy, Holland, and Belgium, found four genes that were faulty more frequently in patients with the bone disease than in healthy people.

Previously, they used a similar approach to identify three genes that caused the condition.

Professor Ralston is now setting up a clinical trial to identify people at risk of Paget's and to offer them preventative treatment.

http://www.ageuk.org.uk/


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