Dr. Daniel Kastner, of the Genetics and Genomic Branch at the U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, was a co-author of both of the NEJM studies. He believes that the findings are groundbreaking.
"The fruits that have come forth from identifying new disease genes has had a significant impact on the care of our patients," Kastner said during the teleconference. "Although these fruits are still a way off for RA, I do have a sense of excitement that we are entering a new era with regards to our understanding of RA and some of the other autoimmune diseases," he said.
Another expert agreed.
"It is now possible to investigate disease association genes genome-wide," noted Dr. Kazuhiko Yamamoto, from the Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Tokyo, Japan, and author of an accompanying NEJM editorial.
"Genetic analyses will enhance our understanding of the disease and the development of new therapies, although more detailed, functional studies are needed," Yamamoto said. "Several associated genes will be revealed to many common diseases in the near future, but ethnic differences should be taken into consideration," he added.
For more on rheumatoid arthritis, visit the U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
SOURCES: Sept. 4, 2007, teleconference with: Peter K. Gregersen, M.D., head, Feinstein Institutes Robert S. Boas Center for Genomics & Human Genetics, Manhasset, N.Y.; Daniel Kastner M.D., Ph.D., Genetics and Genomic Branch, U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
All rights reserved