A team of researchers has discovered a genetic variation that doubles the risk for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The variation, referred to as a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP, pronounced "snip"), is present in about 28 percent of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and 17 percent of the general population. This discovery resulted from a collaboration between scientists from the North American Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium (NARAC), led by Peter K. Gregersen, MD, of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Research Institute in Manhasset, NY, Celera Diagnostics and Genomics Collaborative, Inc. The teams findings are being published in the August 2004 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.
"This is an important discovery, really a major genetic variant identified in a U.S. study that clearly seems to be involved in rheumatoid arthritis," said Stephen I. Katz, MD, PhD, director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the lead agency at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that supports NARAC.
While scientists still do not know the exact cause of RA, they do know it is an autoimmune disease in which the bodys natural immune system does not function properly and attacks its own healthy joint tissues. This causes inflammation and subsequent joint damage.
Christina Verni | EurekAlert!
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