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Approved Research

Genetic basis for excess comorbidities and poor health outcomes in patients with musculoskeletal diseases

Principal Investigator: Dr John Bowes
Approved Research ID: 63393
Approval date: September 29th 2020

Lay summary

Research shows that people with musculoskeletal diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), have a higher risk of developing other long-term diseases, referred to as comorbidities, compared with the general population. For example, people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) die ten years younger than the general population and this is due to the increased risk of conditions such as coronary artery disease (CAD). The genetic risk factors for CAD have been shown to be separate to the well understood lifestyle risk factors which such a contribution from underlying biological pathways. The risk factors for CAD in the general population are well understood and are used to screen individuals to detect and help those at high risk of CAD. However, in people with RA these screening tools have been shown not to work. This is because the risk factors used in the tool are different in this group of people.

The aim of this study is to understand how changes in DNA lead to this increased risk of common comorbidities in people with musculoskeletal disease. The main focus of the research will be identifying the underlying biological mechanisms that lead to the increased risk of comorbidities. And we aim to translate this information to build a new screening tool that will help detect individuals with RA who are at high risk of CAD. This will allow health professionals to provide the required treatment that will help prevent early death in people with RA. This research will be expanded to other musculoskeletal disease such as psoriatic arthritis and juvenile arthritis.