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Osteoarthritisa is a degenerative joint disease in which a joints become damaged, stop moving freely freely, and become painful. It is a complex disease, and more than 20 million Americans suffer from it. Globally, the number is 350 million. Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability, and unfortunately, there is no cure. The disease is managed with various medications and injections. In many cases, joints must be replaced. The result is not always perfect. A new study from the Sanger Institute in the U.K. may be a breakthrough.

The Wellcome Sanger Institute and collaborating researchers undertook one of the largest studies of its kind. The hypothesis behind the study was there may be a genetic link between the disease and a person’s DNA. The researchers studied 16.5 million DNA variations from the UK Biobank resource (read last week’s e-brief about biobanks). They analyzed the DNA of more than 30,000 people with osteoarthritis and nearly 300,000 people without osteoarthritis. The study revealed nine new genes associated with osteoarthritis. Five of the genes showed significantly different properties between those with osteoarthritis and those without.

Further research will likely lead to drugs which can have a corrective effect on those genes. The study also found genetic correlations between osteoarthritis and obesity, bone mineral density, type 2 diabetes, and raised blood lipid levels.

See the full story here.