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Functional Genomic Approaches Targeting Arthritis

Final Activity Report Summary - EURO-RA (Functional Genomic Approaches Targeting Arthritis)

The Marie Curie research training network, EURO-RA, brought together leading groups in the field of rheumatoid arthritis research in Europe.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic, inflammatory, progressive, chronic and destructive disease affecting primarily peripheral joints, which is associated with pain, disfigurement and various systemic manifestations. It is the most common chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease affecting Europeans.

The primary goal of the network was to offer to young researchers the opportunity to participate in a state of the art multidisciplinary training in functional genomics' approaches studying arthritis. This goal was achieved and the network trained 32 fellows during four years.

On the other hand, the main scientific goal was to capitalise on the modern post-genome methodologies, such as genome wide expression profiling, proteome analysis, bioinformatics, comparative genomics and mutagenesis, to study rheumatoid arthritis. This combined effort of 12 research groups from nine European countries aimed to identify susceptibility genes that determined the onset, progression and chronicity of autoimmune arthritis. This in turn would provide an excellent opportunity to improve our knowledge on the in vivo disease mechanism and, hence, to develop more rational forms of therapy. The network made considerable progress in that direction. Network scientists published articles in leading scientific journals on those topics and filed patents on experimental therapies for rheumatoid arthritis.