Researchers find genetic clues for arthritis

Researchers have found 42 new areas in DNA that increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, and that could lead to new drugs that target these areas and one day provide a cure, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

The research involved 30,000 patients, and is the largest genetic study ever conducted.  Researchers compared the DNA of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and found 42 ‘faulty’ areas that were linked with the disease. The goal is to eventually develop drugs to compensate for these faults.

In fact, one drug, which was developed by trial and error rather than made to specifically correct the genetic problem, is already an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, which gives researchers hope that other drugs could be effective by targeting DNA weaknesses.

Other experts contend that identifying genetic weak areas for complex diseases--also known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)--is not an effective approach. But this team of researchers argues that the established rheumatoid arthritis drug that treats symptoms arising from a particular SNP validates the approach.

The study also found that SNPs in the rheumatoid arthritis patients also occur in patients with certain types of blood cancer, which could mean that drugs developed to treat these cancers may  also be effective for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

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Sourced from: BBC, New genetic clues for rheumatoid arthritis ‘cure’