US/World

14 New Genes Linked To Juvenile Arthritis

14 New Genes Linked To Juvenile Arthritis
Researchers found 14 more genes associated with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, tightening efforts to identify future treatments that could improve the lives of 300,000 children with the disease. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Arthritis hampers the lives of 50 million Americans, causing indescribable pain in fingers, wrists, arms and legs or stiffness in the joints. 

But this debilitating disease is not limited to the elderly. In fact two thirds of those inflicted are under the age of 65, out of which 300,000 are children.

Now the trials of research have finally disclosed new genetic links to juvenile arthritis.  In a study published on April 21 in Nature Genetics, researchers found additional genes that contribute to the onset of juvenile idiopathic arthritis, or JIA.

"These findings will help us understand how the long suspected genetic contributions to JIA are driving the disease process, with the ultimate goal being earlier and improved diagnosis and treatment," said Susan Thompson, lead author and researcher in the division of rheumatology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

The study followed 2,816 cases of JIA from more than 40 pediatric clinics treating rheumatology across the United States, Germany and United Kingdom.

They used a technology called Immunochip array to measure genetic differences between the JIA patients and 13,000 healthy participants.

Previous findings linked only three genes to the disease, while this study pinpointed 14 new genes and potentially 11 more regions. These findings could expedite researchers in identifying the mechanism behind JIA.

Researchers still suspect that even more genes are involved in JIA, 30 to 50 in total and some are still unknown.

Not only could this new study lead to understanding the process behind JIA, but it reveals future treatments that could target the disease.

Currently, a range of medications are prescribed to treat juvenile arthritis, including analgesics, corticosteroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

A breakthrough in 1980s, the medication Methotrexate was originally a chemotherapy drug.  While it is one of the more effective treatments for arthritis and the safest, it's still highly toxic and could leave children with damaged immune systems. 

According to the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance, JIA is the number one cause of children becoming disabled. 

Loading...