New Research into Genes that Cause Arthritis

The Arthritis Foundation awarded a two-year grant totaling $200,000 to identify genetic components related to the risk of developing Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). The study will also test the idea that in a child with JIA a new DNA change may occur that is a major contributor to the disease.

Investigator Susan D. Thompson, Ph.D. will focus her study on children who get arthritis at very young ages and on families that have multiple children with JIA or multiple generations with JIA. Using DNA samples from children in the United States – including samples collected in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Atlanta, Chicago and New York – Thompson hopes to refine the understanding of JIA. Research has uncovered many genetic links to JIA but there are still missing pieces in the puzzle to unlock a cure. A new mutation in the DNA replication could alter protein function encoded on a gene. Studying the part of the genome that contains the DNA sequence that codes for proteins, targets the most likely place to find changes related to JIA, according to Thompson.

Results of the study are expected to lead to identification of new genes and pathways related to JIA susceptibility and could lead to earlier and more accurate diagnoses as well as medications.

Thompson’s research will be conducted at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center Division of Rheumatology. For more information about the Arthritis Foundation Research Program, visit http://www.arthritis.org/research/.

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