UCD scientists in arthritis breakthrough

(02/09/2015) People who are most likely to suffer the severest effects of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can now be identified early and provided with more aggressive treatments earlier on, thanks to a discovery by scientists at University College Dublin (UCD).

RA is a chronic and often painful condition that affects the joints, causing them to become inflamed. Around 40,000 people in Ireland are affected.

Scientists at UCD have identified a new protein called C5orf30, which regulates the severity of tissue damage caused by RA. This means that those most likely to suffer the severest effects of the disease can be identified early and given the appropriate treatment.

While there is currently no cure for RA, new drugs are able to treat the disease by, for example, preventing deformed joints. Other ways of managing the condition include regular exercise.

The UCD scientists, working with a team from the University of Sheffield, analysed DNA and biopsy samples from more than 1,000 people with RA in Ireland and the UK.

“Our findings provide a genetic marker that could be used to identify those RA patients who require more aggressive treatments or personalised medicine. 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,” explained lead researcher, Prof Gerry Wilson, of the UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science.

The scientists pointed out that an estimated 30% of people with RA are unable to work within 10 years of developing the condition and it affects more women than men.

Commenting on the breakthrough, John Church, CEO of Arthritis Ireland, said that treatments for RA have greatly improved in recent years.

“Thirty years ago, rheumatologists’ waiting rooms were filled with people in wheelchairs. Today, that is no longer the case. The outlook for a person diagnosed with arthritis in 2015 is much brighter than it used to be. We are getting closer and closer to personalised medicine. This discovery is further proof that we are in the right space and investing our money wisely,” he commented.

Details of these findings are published in the scientific journal, PNAS. For more information on RA, see our RA Clinic here


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