A large genetic study in osteoarthritis conducted by an international team of scientists have found 52 new genetic mutations associated with the disease, doubling the number of genetic regions than previously thought.

The study published in the journal Nature Genetics analysed the genomes of more than 77,000 people and ultimately revealed numerous pathways in which new treatments could be engineered to work. The researchers also underlined opportunities for current medicines in osteoarthritis to be re-evaluated.

Dr Stephen Simpson, Director of Research at Versus Arthritis, who supported the arcOGEN study, said: “Osteoarthritis affects over 8.5 million people across the UK. We know that the condition impacts people in different ways, meaning the treatment that works for one person doesn’t always work for someone else.

“This study represents a hugely important milestone towards understanding the complexity of osteoarthritis and finding new treatments and we are delighted that our support for the arcOGEN study has helped deliver this. In the long term, the research progresses us significantly on the journey to ending the pain, isolation and fatigue of those living with arthritis.”

In order to determine which genes cause and aggravate osteoarthritis, the researchers measured gene expression down to the protein level. The researchers also integrated genetic and proteomic data on tissue from patients who were having joint replacement surgery.

It is estimated that around ten million people in the U.K. suffer from some form of osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease in which an individual’s joints become damaged and painful.