Alyssa Johnsen, M.D., Ph.D.

Alyssa Johnsen, M.D., Ph.D.

2008-2009

Finding New Genes that Control Inflammatory Arthritis
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Alyssa Johnsen, M.D., Ph.D.

Joslin Diabetes Center
Boston, MA
Identification of Genes Governing Susceptibility to Inflammatory Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is caused by a complex set of environmental and genetic factors. Currently, only a small number of the genes that increase a person’s risk of developing RA have been identified. Discovering additional genes that control RA would help us to understand what causes the disease and potentially how to more effectively treat or even prevent arthritis.

Dr. Johnsen will use a unique group of mice to help find the genes controlling inflammatory arthritis. These mice have been extensively bred for over 50 generations, creating mice with a more diverse genetic background than standard mouse strains. By treating these mice to develop arthritis, Dr. Johnsen will be able to correlate the presence of a particular DNA sequence at a specific location on the genome with the severity of the arthritis. This will identify the location of the genes that are controlling arthritis in these animals. Ultimately, Dr. Johnsen will demonstrate the effect of these candidate genes on arthritis by developing mice that are deficient in these genes, then determining their susceptibility to arthritis.

Dr. Johnsen expects to identify new genes that control arthritis in the mouse. Given the similarity of the mouse model with human RA, it is likely that these genes will also play a significant role in the human disease. Finding genes controlling susceptibility to RA will enhance understanding of how the disease works. In addition, these studies have the potential to identify new targets for therapies in human patients.

ANRF
Article Author
Arthritis National Research Foundation
arthritisresearch@curearthritis.org

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. Writing articles about the patients affected and the science being done to find a cure shows why we need to come together to #CureArthritis!

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