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Gene 'Tags' Linked to Increased Rheumatoid Arthritis

Update Date: Jan 21, 2013 07:52 AM EST
Rheumatoid arthritic finger
(Photo : david__jones/flickr)

In a recent study, scientists have found that the process of tagging plays an important role in increasing rheumatoid arthritis. The research was the first of its kind and was conducted to isolate both genes and their tags in widespread diseases.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system of the body fails to recognize the body's cell and targets it as the 'enemy' cell. This attack increases the White Blood Corpuscle (WBC) of the body. The common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are inflammations in the joint, stiffness, pain and disfigurement. Approximately 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from this debilitating disease.

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These 'tags' when attached to a DNA sequence, regulate it; thus it determines how it is transcribed and when, how the protein should be created, and also its effect in certain diseases. The scientists were able to isolate the tagged DNA sequences and were able to identify them to be a major contributor in regulating the progress of rheumatoid arthritis.

The research result was published in Nature Biotechnology and was undertaken by scientists at Johns Hopkins and the Karolinska Institutet. Here they worked to lessen the differences between diseases that are affected by genes and those which are not affected directly.

"Our study analyzed both and shows how genetics and epigenetics can work together to cause disease. The details of what causes a particular sequence to be tagged are unclear, but it seems that some tagging events depend on certain DNA sequences. In other words, those tagging events are under genetic control," Andrew Feinberg, M.D., a Gilman scholar, professor of molecular medicine and director of the Center for Epigenetics at the Johns Hopkins University School of medicine's Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, was quoted as saying in Medical Xpress.

"The details of what causes a particular sequence to be tagged are unclear, but it seems that some tagging events depend on certain DNA sequences. In other words, those tagging events are under genetic control," Feinberg added.

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