Spineblogger – Breakthrough in Gene Therapy for Ankylosing Spondylitis

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The BBC new reported on Monday, Januray 11th, that two genes have been identified by a consortium of scientist from Oxford University (England), the University of Queensland (Australia), and the University of Texas that have a strong connection to Ankylosing Spondylitis, better known as AS.

The disease can result in a person becoming fixed in a bent position looking down at their feet. The identification of these two genes (ERAP1 and IL23R) could help in developing a modality of treatment for this condition.

Currently treatment involves pain killers and physiotherapy although some patients are treated with costly antibodies. The study found six regions of the genome that were associated with AS. ERAP1 is thought to control inflammation while IL23R has been implicated in psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease.

There are many theories as to what causes AS but understanding which genes involved could lead to a new treatment. Gene Therapy, the future of spine? Kudos to those scientist that labor behind the curtain hoping to make real advancements in spine care that will make a difference.

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