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Posted on 01 October 2013

Ground-Breaking Findings Published by Keele Epigenetics and Rheumatology Research Groups Researchers based in the ISTM and at the Haywood Rheumatology Centre in Burslem have identified fundamental differences between specific immune cell populations purified from whole blood.

These cells, known as B- and T-cells, are major contributors to both health and disease processes. Now, and for the first time, these findings provide a unique epigenetic "signature" in healthy, disease-free individuals, which will be key to the identification of epigenetic changes in disease, in particular for rheumatoid arthritis in which these cells play an important role.

These studies were performed by Dr John Glossop who examined more than 450,000 candidate sites in highly purified B- and T-cell populations. In this way, Dr Glossop and colleagues were able to identify 250 genes that showed the same, highly consistent differences in each of the individuals investigated. This ground-breaking work by Keele Epigenetics and Rheumatology Research Groups, funded by the Haywood Rheumatism Research and Development Foundation, has been published in the USA by a highly prestigious journal in this field, Epigenetics.

The authors of the study were John Glossop, Nicola Nixon, Richard Emes, Kim Haworth, Jon Packham, Peter Dawes, Tony Fryer, Derek Mattey and William Farrell. With the exception of Richard Emes (University of Nottingham) all of the investigators and co-authors are based at the ISTM or at the Haywood Rheumatology Centre.