Scientists have identified a protein that regulates the severity of tissue damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Researchers have found that the protein, C5orf30, regulates the severity of tissue damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that causes pain, inflammation, stiffness and damage to the joints of the feet, hips, knees, and hands.
Following the discovery, rheumatoid arthritis patients most likely to suffer the severest effects of the condition can now be identified early and fast-tracked to the more aggressive treatments available, researchers said.
Although there is no cure for RA, new effective drugs are increasingly available to treat the disease and prevent deformed joints.
To conduct the research, scientists from University College Dublin and the University of Sheffield, analysed DNA samples and biopsy samples from joints of over 1,000 Rheumatoid arthritis patients in the UK and Ireland.
“Our findings provide a genetic marker that could be used to identify those RA patients who require more aggressive treatments or personalised medicine,” said Gerry Wilson from the University College Dublin’s School of Medicine and Medical Science in Ireland, 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,” Wilson said.
“These exciting findings will prompt us to further explore the role of this highly conserved protein that we know so little about, and its significance in human health and disease,” said co-author Munitta Muthana from the University of Sheffield.
One of the biggest difficulties with treating rheumatoid arthritis is early diagnosis. With early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, it is possible to reduce the damage to the joints caused by RA.
Deciding the most appropriate treatment for each patient at the earliest possible stage is central to effectively tackling the condition, researchers said.
The study was published in the journal PNAS.