Nine new genes linked to osteoarthritis

The largest genetic study of osteoarthritis to date has uncovered nine new genes associated with the disease.

The analysis of data from the UK biobank also reconfirmed links between high BMI and osteoarthritis but not for triglyceride levels or genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes.

According to the research team from the University of Sheffield in the UK, the findings are a breakthrough that could have implications for the development of new drugs to treat the disease.

Published in this week’s Nature Genetics the study looked at 16.5 million DNA variations from the UK Biobank resource. Following combined analysis in up to 30,727 people with osteoarthritis and nearly 300,000 people without osteoarthritis, the scientists discovered nine new osteoarthritis loci.

For three of the loci they found an association with biologically relevant radiographic endophenotypes, and in five signals they identified genes that were differentially expressed in degraded compared with intact articular cartilage from patients with osteoarthritis.

According to study lead Ms Eleni Zengini from the University of Sheffield and Dromokaiteio Psychiatric Hospital in Athens, the results are an important step towards understanding the genetic causes of osteoarthritis.

“[The findings] take us closer to uncovering the mechanisms behind the disease. Once we know that, it opens the door to developing new therapies for this debilitating disease.”

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