Scientists have identified a gene that regulates the severity of tissue damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Researchers from University College Dublin and the University of Sheffield analysed DNA samples and biopsy samples from the joints of more than 1,000 rheumatoid arthritis patients. They found that the protein known as C5orf30 plays an important role in the progression of the disease.
This breakthrough potentially means that patients most likely to suffer the severest effects of the condition could be identified early and fast-tracked to receive more aggressive treatments, such as anti-TNF therapy, Arthritis Research UK said.
“Our findings provide a genetic marker that could be used to identify those RA patients who require more aggressive treatments or personalised medicine,” explained Professor Gerry Wilson from the UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin, who led the research.
“They also point to the possibility that increasing the levels of C5orf30 in the joints might be a novel method of reducing tissue damage caused by RA,” he said.
With early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, it is possible to reduce the joint damage caused by RA. Deciding the most appropriate treatment for each patient at the earliest possible stage is key to effectively tackling the condition, University College Dublin noted.
Dr. Munitta Muthana from the Medical School at the University of Sheffield, who co-authored the study, said the researchers will now further explore the role of C5orf30 and its significance in human health and disease, as little is currently known about its function.
The team´s findings have been published in the scientific journal PNAS in a paper titled ‘C5orf30 is a negative regulator of tissue damage in rheumatoid arthritis´.