Study Identifies Genetic Risk Factor For Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus

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A genetic variation has been identified that increases the risk of two chronic, autoimmune inflammatory diseases: rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus). These research findings result from a long-time collaboration between the Intramural Research Program (IRP) of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) and other organizations. NIAMS is part of the National Institutes of Health.

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These results appear in the Sept. 6 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Although both diseases are believed to have a strong genetic component, identifying the relevant genes has been extremely difficult," says study coauthor Elaine Remmers, Ph.D., of the Genetics and Genomics Branch of the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Dr. Remmers and her colleagues tested variants within 13 candidate genes located in a region of chromosome 2, which they had previously linked with RA, for association with disease in large collections of RA and lupus patients and controls. Among the variants were several disease-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)

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