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Researchers seek to identify the genes that make us susceptible to disease and illness. In two independent research projects, that searched the entire human genome for variants that increase risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), had remarkably similar results. The research was conducted at the Broad Institute of Harvard, in association with, Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in the U.S., and the University of Manchester in the UK.

Nearly 400 individuals with RA were recruited for the U.S. study. From the study variant on chromosome 6 appeared to increases the risk for developing the disease. The variant is very close to a different variant that was previously found on chromosome 6 and also believed to contribute to RA disease risk.

The cause of RA is still a mystery and scientists believe both genes and the environment play a role in the development of the disease. Exactly what role the variant genes play in chromosome 6 plays is something experts hope to understand.

Researchers hope to better understand that their discover will lead to improved prediction of who gets the disease, improved decisions on how to treat the disease, and improved medications that target specific pathways in selected patients.

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