13 June 2012
Scientists have made a possible medical breakthrough that could help transform the way rheumatoid arthritis is treated.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in the US have discovered that billions of bugs in our guts play a pivotal role in the way the immune system works.
Specifically, the team found that concentrations of above normal populations of bacteria in people's stomachs can create the conditions for diseases like rheumatoid arthritis to develop.
"A lot of people suspected that gut flora played a role in rheumatoid arthritis, but no one had been able to prove it because they couldn't say which came first - the bacteria or the genes," commented lead author Dr Veena Taneja.
"Using genomic sequencing technologies, we have been able to show the gut microbiome may be used as a biomarker for predisposition."
The findings could help medical professionals spot early on those who are more likely to develop the condition and prevent it from developing into a severe form.
According to the NHS, rheumatoid arthritis affects around 400,000 people in England and Wales, commonly those aged between 40 and 70.
Posted by Edward Bartel
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