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Researchers identify new risk factor gene for rheumatoid arthritis
Date:6/9/2009

Scientists at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and a team of collaborators from across the country have identified a new risk factor gene for rheumatoid arthritis. The paper will be published in Nature Genetics and the finding brings light to the nature of the disease. The gene, dubbed REL, is a member of the NF-B family, important transcription factors that have many roles in the body. The NF-B family seems to have a big hand in regulating the body's immune response as well.

"The NF-is a key switching point for many cellular activities," said Peter K. Gregersen, MD, head of the Robert S. Boas Center for Genomics and Human Genetics at the Feinstein Institute and lead author of the study. Dr. Gregersen is part of a nationwide consortium of investigators seeking to identify risk genes for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The hope is to figure out the genetic triggers and identify treatments that block this autoimmune process. In theory, such advances can point the way to understanding other autoimmune disorders. About one percent of the population will develop rheumatoid arthritis, which can be crippling.

REL is a key regulator of CD40, which works through the NF-pathway.

"This paper represents the latest in a series of important publications chronicling an exceptionally productive collaboration between extramural and intramural scientists through the North American Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium," said Daniel Kastner, MD, PhD, clinical director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. "In describing yet another gene in the CD40 signaling pathway that is involved in rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility, this paper reinforces the possibility of targeting this pathway in selected patients with this debilitating illness."

The consortium has helped identify many genes involved in rheumatoid arthritis but this genetic
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Contact: Jamie Talan
jtalan@nshs.edu
516-562-1232
North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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