Researchers from Belgium’s Flanders Institute for Biotechnology and Ghent University have released a study showing that a defective gene might contribute to the onset of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Until now, the underlying molecular mechanism of the disease was largely unclear. The study, published in Nature Genetics, identifies a defect in the A20 gene as a possible culprit.
RA is a chronic progressive joint disease that starts with the inflammation of the synovial membrane and soft tissues around the joints. It often will spread to cartilage and bones, causing extreme pain. Currently the progression of the disease can be slowed down, but at this time there is no known cure for RA.
Protein A20 is a negative regulator of what is called a “transcription factor,” which plays a key role in the generation of the inflammatory response by the body. Excessive activation of the transcription factor, without proper regulation, can lead to a whole range of inflammatory diseases, including arthritis.
The research group of Rudi Beyaert investigated the molecular mechanisms that control the transcription factor activation that were based on recent genome-wide association studies in humans that had already suggested that defects in A20 could contribute to several autoimmune diseases, including RA.
This study confirms the crucial role of A20 in the control of inflammatory responses and shows that a defect in A20 in myeloid cells can give rise to RA that is not responsive to anti-TNF treatment (one of the most common treatments for RA). From a therapeutic perspective, this is a very important finding, since anti-TNF therapy fails in 30% of RA patients.
Beyaert and his colleagues caution that their study was on mice and is in the very early stages of research, but so far the study results are valuable in giving the medical community an optimistic look at the future of suffers of RA.
RA is a particularly debilitating form of arthritis that leads to contractures and deformities of the hands and fingers, as the peripheral joints become involved. This, of course, can have a severe impact on a person’s ability to perform simple activities such as writing. The scientifically-designed UGLee Pen was created with the ergonomics of writing in mind. If you suffer from RA, you’ll find that it’s an easy task to write with the UGLee Pen, as the pen grasps you instead of you having to put pressure on holding the pen. So, even if you have painful RA in your hands, your writing experience can actually be comfortable and relaxing.
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