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New Genetic Link Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Two previously established loci also affirmed

FRIDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A new genetic locus associated with rheumatoid arthritis in European populations has been identified, according to the results of a study published Sept. 6 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Robert M. Plenge, M.D., Ph.D., of the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues genotyped single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 1,522 subjects with rheumatoid arthritis and 1,850 matched controls from a combination of sample populations in North America and Sweden. All rheumatoid arthritis patients were seropositive for autoantibodies against cyclic citrulinated peptide. SNPs showing significant associations were genotyped in an additional sample of case subjects and controls.

SNPs were identified in linkage disequilibrium with known variants associated with rheumatoid arthritis at regions HLA-DRB1 and PTPN22. The new SNP associated with increased arthritis risk was found at rs3761847, located between genes TRAF1 and C5 on chromosome 9. Both genes are relevant to chronic inflammation. Combining all samples tested, the odds ratio for the association with rs3761847 was 1.32 per copy of the risk allele.

An accompanying editorial called the findings "welcome," but added, "Personalized medicine in the era of genomewide association studies will make few advances unless the scope of clinical research is broadened to include data from many ethnic groups; non-European populations are currently underrepresented."

Several authors have received funding or compensation from various pharmaceutical companies.

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