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U of Manchester Receives $4M for New Arthritis Genetics and Genomics Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The University of
Manchester will use a £2.4 million ($4 million) grant from the non-profit Arthritis Research UK to create a center focused on discovering and applying genetic knowledge about arthritis, the university said today.

The Arthritis Research UK Centre for Genetics and Genomics will investigate the genetic factors that lead to people developing inflammatory arthritis, and will seek to use this knowledge to identify better targets for treating this disease.

Arthritis Research UK also has provided £2.3 million to fund a related center, the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Epidemiology, which will focus on environmental and other non-genetic factors that influence the disease.

Researchers at the Manchester genomics center will study which genes cause rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis; how this knowledge can be used to predict who will develop the disease and to identify new treatments; and which genes affect disease severity and response to treatment.

The researchers at the new centers have already been working on these questions and have made a number of new findings, such as identifying genetic regions and behavioral and environmental risk factors for arthritis, Manchester said. One challenge will be to pinpoint the specific genes and genetic pathways that impact the disease, as well as interactions with environmental factors.

"We've already discovered a considerable amount about the genetic risk factors for inflammatory arthritis, and we now want to combine this knowledge with information on non-genetic risk factors in order to develop methods to predict who will get arthritis, when, and how severely, and to make it easier to choose the right treatment first time," Jane Worthington, director for the genetics and genomics center, said in a statement.