New study identifies six genetic regions linked to ankylosing spondylitis

New study identifies six genetic regions linked to ankylosing spondylitis

An international consortium of scientists, jointly led by Oxford University, the University of Texas, and the University of Queensland, has identified as many as six genetic regions that are supposedly linked

with ankylosing spondylitis – the common ‘spine-fusing’ arthritis that causes the sufferers to become fixed in a forward-bent position, looking at their feet.

Going by the findings of the study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, two of the newly-identified AS-related genes – dubbed ERAP1 and IL23R - show a fairly strong association with the disease, over

and above the already-known HLA-B27 gene that has been linked with the disease for three decades.

Scientists opine that since both ERAP1 and IL23R are involved in the body’s inflammatory processes, they can now be investigated as targets for developing improved treatments for the patients of AS.

It was after a comprehensive comparison of the genetic profiles of 2,053 AS patients with 5,140 matched control group that the scientists discovered six new regions of the AS-asociated genome, with

ERAP1 and IL23R genes bearing the strongest associations.

Commenting on the findings of the study, Professor Paul Wordsworth - of Oxford University's Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences – said: “We knew there was

a strong genetic component to this disease, and we now have the foundation we need for future research to pin down the genetic causes of this condition.”