Sunday, September 23, 2012
Gene flaw linked to low back pain
Scientists have identified a gene flaw linked to disc problems that are a common cause of lower back pain. The UK study, published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, looked at 4,600 people and found the PARK2 gene was linked to age-related disc problems. A third of middle-aged women have problems with at least one spinal disc - and the condition is known to be inherited in up to 80% of patients. Experts said finding the gene could lead to new treatments being developed. Back pain costs the UK about £7bn a year in sickness leave and treatment costs, but the causes of the condition are not fully understood. In lumbar disc degeneration (LDD), discs become dehydrated and lose height, and the vertebrae next to them develop bony growths called osteophytes, leading to lower back pain. The King's College London researchers carried out MRI scans of all those in the study and looked at differences in their genetic make-up. They found variants of the PARK2 gene appeared to have an effect in people with degenerate discs and influence the speed at which their condition deteriorated. Environmental effects The researchers, funded by the Wellcome Trust and Arthritis Research UK, say more research is now needed to find out how the gene influences the condition. But they suggest it could be switched off in people with LDD.
posted by SCIENCE NEWS at 1:58 AM