Juvenile Arthritis Research | Causes of JRA
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Juvenile Arthritis Research and the Causes of JRA

Juvenile Arthritis Affects Nearly 300,000 American Kids

The Arthritis National Research Foundation (ANRF) strives to fund at least one juvenile arthritis research project each year. Juvenile arthritis, of which juvenile idiopathic arthritis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are a part, has become one of the most prevalent childhood diseases in America. The CDC estimates that 294,000 U.S. children (1 in 250) have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis or another rheumatic condition.

 

This means that rheumatic diseases, such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, among others, affect more children than many other childhood diseases combined. Currently there is very little funding dedicated to juvenile arthritis research and our goal is to change that by funding more research to identify the causes of juvenile arthritis.

Juvenile Arthritis Research

ANRF recognizes the severity of JRA disease on kids and that is why a program was started to fund at least one grant per year ($100,000) specifically for juvenile arthritis research. The JRA research grant, named The Kelly Award, after ANRF spokersperson and board member Kelly Rouba, is just the beginning in the fight against juvenile arthritis. ANRF needs your help to find the causes of JRA and continue to help these kids through research.

Research Highlights

New Genetic Targets for Juvenile Arthritis Treatment

Dr. Scott Canna at the University of Pittsburgh is studying a novel mutation of a lesser-known form of juvenile arthritis which could lead to understanding the genetic cause of Macrophage Activation Syndrome.

 

Macrophage Activation Syndrome (MAS) is a life-threatening complication of a number of rheumatic illnesses, particularly a type if juvenile arthritis called systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA). MAS manifests as the rapid onset of severe inflammation throughout the body.

 

Using genetic sequencing techniques, Dr. Canna and his team recently discovered a novel genetic cause of MAS that may be important for our understanding of sJIA and a related disorder called Still’s Disease.

 

Using clues from patients and model systems, Dr. Canna is studying how such genetic defects contribute to MAS, sJIA, and Still’s Disease.

 

Potential: Ultimately, Dr. Canna plans to work on developing therapies to inhibit the genes which may be causing these diseases.

Studying what may predispose children to Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Dr. Altan Ercan at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School in Boston is studying the role of the modified antibodies found in both juvenile and adult arthritis patients in the cause and tissue destructive phase of the disease. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) is an important contributor to inflammation within the joint. Its interaction with other molecules in the inflammatory process is strongly influenced by the structure of complex sugars attached to IgG. In adult rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it is well established that one class of the sugar structure (G0) is present in greater abundance in RA patients, suggesting that antibody sugars may be an important contributor to RA.

 

However, little is known about the same process in children. Dr. Ercan investigated G0 sugars among healthy children and patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). According to his results, published recently in Arthritis & Rheumatism, an unusually elevated proportion of G0 is found in patients with multiple different forms of JIA. Intriguingly, healthy children at the peak age of JIA onset (2-3 years) also showed a higher G0 proportion, suggesting one way in which the immature immune system may predispose children to arthritis.

 

Potential: These studies may lead to better understanding juvenile and adult rheumatoid arthritis and provide novel targets for new therapies.

More notable juvenile arthritis research studies funded by the Foundation

Susannah Brydges, PhD at University of California, San Diego is studying an inherited form of disease that mimics Juvenile Arthritis (JA) in animals.
Result: Identification of the cause and mechanisms involved in this disease could led to methods to prevent and treat the disease in children