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Unlocking the genetics and biology of ankylosing spondylitis
Date:7/10/2011

A study involving over 5,000 people living with the joint disorder ankylosing spondylitis has identified a series of genetic variants associated with increased susceptibility to the condition as well as providing new clues to how the condition may be treated in the future.

The study, a collaboration between the Australo-Anglo-American Spondyloarthritis Consortium and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, also provides one of the first confirmed examples of gene-gene interaction seen in humans.

Ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune disease that affects as many as one in 200 men and one in 500 women in the UK, typically striking people in their late teens and twenties. While it mainly affects the spine, it can also affect other joints, tendons and ligaments. More rarely, it can affect other areas, such as the eyes, lungs, bowel and heart.

Now, a study carried out in the UK, Australia and North America comparing the genomes of 3,023 cases against those of 8,779 healthy controls has identified a series of genetic regions newly implicated in the disease. The findings were confirmed in an independent cohort of 2,111 cases and 4,483 controls. The results are published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Professor Peter Donnelly from the University of Oxford, Chair of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium says: "Thanks to over 5,000 people with ankylosing spondylitis who have provided DNA samples, we were able to undertake the largest study of the genetics of this painful and often disabling disease. It revealed important, and in some cases surprising, new insights into the disease."

The study identified three regions of the genome RUNX3, LTBR and TNFRSF1A in which genetic variants were strongly associated with ankylosing spondylitis. In addition, they found a further four which are likely candidates: PTGER4, TBKBP1, ANTXR2 and CARD9.

As well as furthering our understanding of the genetics unde
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Contact: Craig Brierley
c.brierley@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7329
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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