DNA sections linked to osteoarthritis found

Updated: Jul 03, 2012, 14:34 PM IST

London: British researchers have discovered eight sections of our DNA that cause osteoarthritis, the hopelessly crippling condition affecting tens of millions worldwide.

The breakthrough by University of Newcastle scientists potentially opens the way to new therapies for the commonest form of arthritis, especially involving two or three of these genetic sections, responsible for the production of cartilage, the tissue between bones that is damaged by osteoarthritis.

Scientists also believe that they could alter patients` genes to make them produce stronger cartilage, helping to repair the damaged joints, the journal Lancet reports.

Osteoarthritis is believed to affect as many as 40 percent of those over 70 years, causing debilitating joint pain -- particularly in the hips and knees -- and often leaves patients immobile or unable to walk long distances.

John Loughlin, Newcastle professor who led the research, said: "We`ve identified eight regions of human genomes that increase the risk of the disease. We would dearly like to use the information gathered to enable patients` cells to be modified to ensure they make better cartilage. But it`s a long way off."

At present, there is no known cure for the condition. Patients can only ease their symptoms with drugs, physiotherapy or in severe cases through surgery to remove the affected joint.

Researcher looked at 7,400 patients with osteoarthritis and compared their DNA to 11,000 people without the disease. They found eight sections of our DNA that are responsible for osteoarthritis.

Although the authors point out that it will be at least five or 10 years before they are close to a treatment, they described the findings as an important "first step".

IANS