Current Research on Ankylosing Spondylitis

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Recently, under John D. Reveille, MD's leadership, work by the Spondylitis Association of America as the National Recruiting Center for the Triple "A" Spondylitis Consortium Genetic Study (i.e., the TASC or Australo-Anglo-American Spondylitis Consortium) with support from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases led to the discovery of two additional genes—ARTS1 and IL23R—responsible for spondylitis.

IL23R plays a role in the immune system's response to infection, while ARTS1 is involved in processing infectious agents into smaller pieces that the immune system can fight. Along with HLA-B27, these two genes could help doctors identify people who are at highest risk of developing spondylitis and may eventually lead to immunizations against the disease.

These findings, which bring the scientific community closer to fully understanding spondylitis, help to refute the longstanding idea that spondylitis is an autoimmune disease along the lines of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Rather, the researchers say, it is an unusual response to infection, with the two genes damaging the immune system's ability to rid the body of infection-causing bacteria.

 

This article is an excerpt from Straight Talk On Spondylitis, which is published by the Spondylitis Association of America. You can learn more about the SAA and purchase your own copy of Straight Talk by visiting their website, www.spondylitis.org.

Updated on: 12/10/09
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