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New Study To Identify Osteoporosis Genes

More than 2,000 people are being recruited from Orkney, Scotland as a part of a major new study that wants to identify genes that cause osteoporosis. //The study is to be funded by Arthritis Research Campaign and people from Westray, Sanday, Stronsay and Shapinsay, as well as those from the west of the Mainland of Orkney are expected to act as volunteers. The study may cost £240,000 over the next three years.

The investigation will be carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh led by Professor of Rheumatology Stuart Ralston, and Royal Society Research Fellow, Dr Jim Wilson, who comes from Orkney.

Previous research has shown that people with a family history of osteoporosis are at increased risk of suffering from the condition themselves. This appears to be due to the inheritance of genes that predispose them to reduced bone mineral density.

The people of Orkney have been specifically selected by the Edinburgh team because the population is both isolated and stable, and specific genes will be easier to track down and identify.

"Although some genes that predispose people to osteoporosis have been identified, most remain to be discovered," explained Professor Ralston, who is based at the Rheumatic Diseases Unit in the university's Molecular Medicine Centre at the Western General Hospital. "With this project we will carry out genetic mapping studies in several large families from an isolated population in Orkney to try and discover the location and identify the genes that influence bone density and predispose to this common condition. We know that genetic factors make about an 80 per cent contribution to people developing low bone density, but we only know about five per cent of them."

"You couldn't do this sort of study in a large city like Edinburgh because there are people from all over the world and therefore too many genetic influences, so it would be very hard to disentangle those th
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