Scientists have discovered a set of genes that can increase the risk of osteoarthritis by up to 20 per cent.
Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects the joints, causing pain, stiffness and difficulty moving. Around 1 million people see their GP about it every year. Osteoarthritis cannot be cured, and current treatment for the condition aims to relieve pain, reduce disability and provide support to the sufferer.
But a team at Newcastle University has made a ‘major breakthrough’ with the disease, and hope that the discovery will open the door to new and improved treatments.
Scientists compared the genetic codes of 7,400 people with severe arthritis to 11,000 healthy people, and replicated the results across Europe. Writing in The Lancet Medical Journal, they found eight new genes linked to the condition.
The common genes each increase the risk by between 11 per cent and 20 per cent.
The sections of genetic code found are involved in the production and maintenance of cartilage- vital for effective joint movement. Lead author John Loughlin, professor of musculoskeletal research at Newcastle University, said:
"In this study we were able to say with a high degree of confidence which genetic regions are the major risk factors for developing osteoarthritis: the first time that this has been possible for this common yet complex disease.”
Dr Ele Zeggini, first and senior co-author on the research from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said:
“Our list of genetic culprits also helps us to begin to pick apart this challenging disease, opening a door which could lead to treatments targeted to specific types of osteoarthritis.”
The NHS in England and Wales performs over 140,000 hip and knee replacement operations every year on patients without health insurance. In the 2011 Dr Foster Hospital Guide, private providers came out top for knee replacement surgery.
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