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Genes Causing Rheumatoid
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human genome has now been thoroughly screened in the hunt for the
genetic causes of rheumatoid arthritis. The results, which both
confirms previous hypotheses and turn the spotlight on entirely new
genes, are presented in two articles in the prestigious New
England Journal of Medicine.
arthritis is the most common rheumatic disease, and affects
approximately one per cent of the population. Its causes are unknown,
but scientists believe that the chances of developing the disease are
determined as much by genetic factors as they are by environment and
An international team of researchers
from Sweden, the USA and Singapore, led by professors Lars Klareskog
and Lars Alfredsson at the Swedish medical university Karolinska
Institutet together with PhD group leader Mark Seielstad at the A*STAR
funded national Genome Institute of Singapore, has compared the genomes
of over 1,5000 rheumatics with those of 1,850 controls. Their analysis
shows that the DNA of these two groups are at a variance at three
sites, two genes previously linked to the disease and a previously
unresearched gene complex known as TRAF-C5.
Swedish and American researchers have also used the same material to
examine the significance of a specific area of the genome. They found
that yet another gene, STAT 4, could be linked to the disease.
previously studied genes and the newly discovered TRAF-C5 and STAT4
genes are each important in its own way for the function of the body's
"It's exciting that we've found new,
single genes that impact on the risk of disease, but what's most
important is that we've now got a broader base for understanding the
mechanisms behind the development and course of the disease," says
Professor Klareskog. "Since the two most crucial genes are already
known, this shows that we're on the right track."
studies illustrate the apparent need and growing trend towards
conducting genetic research through large-scale international
partnerships. Sweden's unique patient register has been of use here for
the gathering of samples and for the analysis of the interaction
between genetic and environmental factors, while the genetic analysis
has been carried out in Singapore using the very latest genomic
"We're concentrating our efforts onto
Singapore as it's a country that is currently investing very actively
in bioscience and biotechnology," says Professor Jan Carlstedt-Duke,
Dean of Research at Karolinska Institutet. "This is the second study
from our partnership with Singapore that's given results."
www.Joint-Pain-Forum.com from original press release.
as a Risk Locus for Rheumatoid Arthritis; a Genomewide Study, New
England Journal of Medicine, 10.1056/nejmoa073491, Online 5
STAT4 and Risk of Rheumatoid
Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, New England
Journal of Medicine, 6 September 2007.
information on the studies:
Department of Medicine, Solna
about the Singapore partnership:
Petterson, Scientific Coordinator
Department of Microbiology,
Tumour and Cell Biology
Karolinska Institutet is
one of the leading medical universities in Europe. Through research,
education and information, Karolinska Institutet contributes to
improving human health. Each year, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska
Institutet awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. For more
information, visit http://ki.se/
Source: Katarina Sternudd
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