Singapore and China scientists, headed by Dr Liu Jianjun, Senior Group Leader and Associate Director of Human Genetics at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and Dr Gu Jieruo, a rheumatologist at the 3rd Affiliated Hospital of the Sun Yat-Sen University, have identified new genes that are associated with the spine disease ankylosing spondylitis (AS). This discovery, reported in the advanced online issue of Nature Genetics, brings scientists closer to understanding the disease and work towards its cure.
AS is a progressive autoimmune disease. It is characterized by the inflammatory low back pain, partly accompanied by peripheral arthritis, enthesis and iritis, and even spinal deformity and ankylosis. It can cause eventual fusion of the spine, a condition known as "bamboo spine". Its prevalence is 2.4 per 1,000 in the Chinese population, similar to that in populations of European ancestry. Genetic factors play an important role in the pathogenesis of AS and the estimated
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