Researchers link pathway to development of RA


November 19, 2014

Topic: physical therapy

Researchers have identified a new signaling pathway in the body that they believe plays a significant role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis.

Researchers have identified a new signaling pathway in the body that they believe plays a significant role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis. The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Finding the correct path
The study authors noted that there is a specific cell pathway that is directly correlated to inflammatory bone erosion, a common symptom in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers examined a gene known as RBP-J. They discovered that the expression level for this gene in RA patients is much lower than the level in people without the condition.

Lead researcher Baohong Zhao, Ph.D., found a new signaling cell pathway and highlighted how it could take part in some of the mechanisms that lead to developing RA.

This is not the first study to investigate the role certain genes play in RA development. Researchers actually conducted a genome-wide association test to examine the possible factors that lead to bone erosion in RA. This group of study authors also uncovered a variant of the gene RBP-J. However, they had no idea what role the gene played.

"We found for the first time that the expression level of this risk gene in RA patients is significantly lower than the level in healthy controls, thus providing important evidence of the link between this risk gene and RA disease," Zhao said in a statement.

The study authors also figured out how RBP-J controlled a large amount of bone erosion using the newly discovered signaling pathway.

Making strides
The group of colleagues are very excited about their recent discoveries. They believe finding this pathway can help scientists create new treatments and prevention methods for the development of RA, which provides new opportunities for the clinical care and research.

Rheumatoid arthritis currently affects 1.5 million people in the U.S, the Arthritis Foundation stated. More women are affected by the condition than men. There is currently no cure for RA, but medication and physical therapy can help alleviate some of the pain associated with the disease. These treatments can possibly slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, reduce inflammation and increase range of motion and mobility.

The researchers discovered the pathway by examining complete transcripts of gene sequences, which helps give information about the expression levels of single genes instead of groups. The study authors concluded that the technology used allowed them to investigate key components of the signaling pathway.


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