Exploring three DNA areas associated with risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Dr. Kate Duffus

Organisation - University of Manchester

Type of grant - Foundation Fellowship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £166,778

Start date - 1 October 2016

Reference - 21146

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

Researchers have found over 100 DNA regions associated with rheumatoid arthritis, but the majority are in regions of the DNA that do not contain a gene, and it is therefore difficult to interpret their impact on disease. To gain an understanding of why genetic changes play a role in the condition, it is important to study them in greater detail and investigate what role they have in the processes within the body.

Why is this research important?

The team working on this project have generated data, suggesting that three rheumatoid arthritis associated regions may influence the activity of three separate genes. Using these findings, this research will confirm the genes controlled by the three regions, the mechanism by which they control them and in which cell types the changes are important.

Each cell in an individual’s body contains the same DNA, but it is treated differently in different cell types. Hence, it is important to study what function the areas of DNA have in chosen cell types to be able to gain a true insight into their role. This research shall study two different types of immune cells, T-cells and B-cells.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Identifying precisely the genetic changes at three susceptibility areas known to be associated with rheumatoid arthritis disease activity, the genes they affect and the way in which they are incorrectly controlled may highlight new targets for novel drug design or for the re-positioning of existing drugs for rheumatoid arthritis.