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

finding is significant because of its key role in immune system regulation. It did not reveal itself in previous genetic studies because the sample size was just not large enough. In previous studies, genetic samples from about 2,000 patients were used to identify markers associated with risk for RA. In the latest study, the scientists analyzed samples from 4,000 RA patients and controls.

According to Dr. Gregersen, this particular genetic variant is rather common, found in about a third of people in North America. That means that it must confer an important survival advantage. That said, scientists need to figure out its role in increasing the risk for RA. Next on the research agenda is to see if they can measure how the gene is regulated under specific conditions that set the stage for RA. "There are a huge number of unknowns," said Dr. Gregersen. "These findings are clear this pathway is involved but there is a lot of work to be done."

Genetic differences between individuals help scientists understand many diseases. But this is just the beginning, added Dr. Gregersen. Today, most markers that are used to identify genes represent variants that occur in more than five percent of the population. The next wave in genetic screening will have to include the variants that occur in less than one percent of the population.


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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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