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Study finds genes that may be responsible for rheumatoid arthritis

Category: Autoimmune Diseases

A recent study at the Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit at the University of Manchester, which utilized DNA samples from more than 27,000 patients, has found 14 genes that may be the cause of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There have already been 32 other genes discovered that contribute to the development of the condition.

The research, which was published in Nature and Genetics, also found that the gene is specifically linked to the X-chromosome, which may explain why more women suffer from the ailment than men. The researchers noted that the recent discoveries have vast implications for potential arthritis treatment.

"This work will have a great impact on the clinical treatment of arthritis - we have already found three genes that are targets for drugs, leaving a further 43 genes with the potential for drug development, helping the third of patients who fail to respond well to current medications," said research author Stephen Eyre, M.D.

RA facts
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), RA is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks healthy tissue. It can occur at any time in a person's life, but it's more common in middle age.

RA can sometimes be diagnosed with a lab test known as a rheumatoid factor test. Also, an Anti-CCP antibody test may be conducted along with a complete blood count and joint X-rays.

Some symptoms of RA include stiffness in the morning, joint pain, a decrease of the range of motion in the joints, chest pain, dry eyes and difficulty sleeping. Patients may also experience numbness, tingling or burning in their hands or feet. RA side effects usually occur on both sides of the body, especially in the feet, wrists, fingers and ankles.

To treat the condition, the NIH notes that exercise, physical therapy and medication are all used. Sometimes surgery is also performed in order to slow down the degradation of the joints.

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