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New findings may provide relief for osteoarthritis sufferers

Eight potential osteoarthritis susceptibility genes discovered, which scientists say may be instrumental in future disease prevention and treatments.

Image: John Stillwell/PA Wire

SCIENTISTS SAY THEY have found eight new potential osteoarthritis susceptibility genes as part of the largest study if its kind to date.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting about40 per cent of the world’s population over 70.  Arthritis Ireland says that the condition can also affect younger people, while it’s thought that around 400,000 people suffer with osteoarthritis in this country.

John Loughlin from Newcastle University in the UK, who led the research said that the findings “provide some insight into the genetics of arthritis and identify new pathways that might be amenable to future therapeutic intervention”, according to The Lancet.

It has proved difficult to identify the genes involved in osteoarthritis, with just three discovered until this latest study, which compared the genomes of 7,400 people with severe hip and knee osteoarthritis. Eleven thousand control experiments were also carried out within the UK.

The most promising sites identified were then replicated in an independent group of almost 7500 people with osteoarthritis and about 43 000 individuals without the condition from Iceland, Estonia, the Netherlands, and the UK.

Results confirmed the three previously reported gene variants and found a further eight sites associated with osteoarthritis.

Five of the new loci were significantly associated with the disease and an additional three loci were approaching the threshold for genome-wide significance.

Researchers say that the challenge now will be to connect the biology of the genes to the development and progression of osteoarthritis, and to potentially develop pathways for disease prevention and treatments.

Read the full article in The Lancet>

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Emer McLysaght

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