Greek, British and other researchers – led by a Greek scientist of the diaspora – discovered 52 new genes and biological mechanisms associated with osteoarthritis. The discovery opens up opportunities for developing new drugs in the future.
The study, the largest ever on the genetic background of osteoarthritis, headed by Professor Eleftheria Zengini of the Helmholtz Center in Munich (until recently at the British Wellcome Sanger Institute of Cambridge), published in the journal Genetics “Nature Genetics”, analysed the complete genome of 77,052 people suffering from osteoarthritis and of 378,169 healthy people.
Osteoarthritis is the most common musculoskeletal disease and the leading cause of disability globally. Many millions of people around the world (about 40 pct over 70) have chronic pain and have difficulty moving freely. To date, there is no effective cure, but only pain-relieving drugs, while some decide to have surgery to replace the joint (but not always with the desired effect).
“Osteoarthritis is a very common illness, which causes mobility difficulties and for which there is no cure. We have conducted the largest study of osteoarthritis to date and we have found more than 50 new genetic changes that increase the risk for its occurrence. This is an important step forward with the aim of developing treatments that will help millions of people who suffer,” Dr. Zengini said.