03/21/2017 HYU News > Academics Important News
Genetic Architecture of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Bae Sang-cheol (College of Medicine)
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Rheumatology is a rather unexplored branch in the medical field, and its causes and cures have not yet been fully prepared. However, Professor Bae Sang-cheol of the College of Medicine at Hanyang University stands as one of the pioneers to define and research the causal factors of rheumatology and discover better remedies. In his research “Update on the genetic architecture of rheumatoid arthritis”, Bae clearly defines the factors of rheumatoid arthritis with regards to human genetics, and predicts the possibility for precision medicine.
In his paper, Bae has organized the causes and possible remedies for rheumatology researched in the last five years- collecting all data with advanced medical technology. Rheumatism hasn't been explored completely yet, so its causes are only speculated to be genetic and environmental factors. “Rheumatism is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the causes tend not to be external factors. It's assumed that 60% of the causes is the immune system attacking upon itself, acting out of misconception,” said Bae.
Human genetic studies into rheumatoid arthritis have uncovered more than 100 genetic loci associated with susceptibility to the disease. This means that the majority of factors are highly shared across multiple ancestral populations. Bae and his fellow researchers organized the data on impaired immune processes and disease phenotypes for rheumatism. “The ultimate goal of this research paper was to enhance the possibility of finding the repurposed drug for each rheumatoid arthritis patient,” mentioned Bae.
Since 2005, medical technology developed rapidly, especially in the genome field. For about a decade, a significant amount of the data was collected on genome structures that are likely to influence the rheumatoid diseases. “The grand development in this area is that now, technology can examine the whole genetic variants, instead of individual ones, using the whole genome analysis technique,” said Bae.
Rheumatology-related genetics directly affect gene expression and protein function, and also influence cell signaling pathways. According to the cumulated data, this process causes the immune function to be disordered, and spawns diseases in patients. “Proteins that are encoded by rheumatoid risk variants have the potential to help the development of targeting drugs,” Bae explained.
Two years were spent in total on the production of this paper, and each process was intricate. First, Bae was invited to co-write with rheumatology experts to analyze the causes and possibilities of advancing repositioning drugs. Then, he had to edit and peer review the analysis and consult with graphic designers to obtain desired pictures of rheumatoid figures. “All these processes took a long time, but interacting with peer reviewers was particularly helpful in advancing this article,” said Bae.
Drug repurposing, also called as drug repositioning, is applying and utilizing existing medicine to develop into rheumatoid remedies. This technique significantly curtails the cost and time to invent new drugs that target rheumatoid diseases, because existing drugs have already been approved for its pharmacodynamics. Also, the development of precision medicine, which therapeutically targets for personalized rheumatoid state, is being accelerated.
“Rheumatoid arthritis does not signal the body in a unique way- it feels more like a cold in the beginning. But alerting oneself to get regular health checks may help to prevent the threatening disease." Bae's ultimate goal is to develop and contribute to organic and personalized rheumatoid arthritis drug invention. His efforts to contribute to the field of rheumatology are prominent, just like his favorite poem, 'The Road Not Taken', by Robert Frost. “Reminding yourself of the original attitude and always trying your best will undoubtedly lead you to success,” advised Bae.
Kim Ju-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Choi Min-ju
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