SCIENTISTS in the NorthEast are to carry out further research into the genetic origins of osteoarthritis, following their major breakthrough last year.John Loughlin, professor of musculoskeletal research and research fellow Dr Louise Reynard, from Newcastle University, have been awarded four grants with a combined value of more than [pounds]730,000 from medical research charity Arthritis Research UK. Their group will carry out a detailed study of the most significant genetic regions to emerge from the world's biggest study into osteoarthritis, also funded by Arthritis Research UK. The arcOGEN study, led by Professor Loughlin, which was published in Th Lancet last year, discovered eight genetic regions associated with the cause of osteoarthritis - a major breakthrough in determining the genetic basis of osteoarthritis. The research group will now carry out a further more detailed investigation in several of these highly-significant genetic regions. In one of a number of related strands of research, they will investigate which genes in the region are active in the joints and are likely to be the culprits harbouring the genetic changes that influence the risk of osteoarthritis. They will look for unusual activity in joint tissues, recording subtle effects and DNA changes within the genes. "We hope that it will reveal DNA targets for future therapies, " said Professor Loughlin. Osteoarthritis affects about eight million people in the UK, causing pain and disability, and there is no cure. Treatments for early osteoarthritis are limited to non-surgical options such as pain killers and physiotherapy until joint replacement becomes a viable option. Osteoarthritis is a complex disorder with both environmental and genetic causes.
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