Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Shanghai researchers identify genetic markers for rheumatoid arthritis


Shanghai researchers have helped identify new genetic regions involved in rheumatoid arthritis that will shed light on medicines that could be effective in treating the disease.
Professor Xu Huji and colleagues from the Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, worked with other groups from around the world to identify 42 new genetic regions involved in the disease, bringing the total known to be involved to 101.
It is believed that 65 per cent of the risk of rheumatoid arthritis is genetic.
The research involved several thousand Chinese rheumatoid arthritis patients and is the largest such genetic study in the world and the first in Han Chinese.
The study, to be published in Nature and in Arthritis and Rheumatism, has nearly doubled the number of regions of the genome associated with the disease.
The researchers identified several genes that are already targets of approved treatments for other diseases, including cancer treatments. These drugs could now potentially be repurposed for rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
They showed that existing rheumatoid arthritis drugs only target 30 of those genes, meaning a large number of potential new drug targets can now be investigated. 

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