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Research and new developments for vasculitis

In the past, some types of vasculitis were very serious diseases, especially if they affected both small and medium-sized arteries. Advances in treatment over the last two decades have completely changed this and most forms of vasculitis can now be controlled and sometimes completely cured. The new problem to be faced is that some treatments have unpleasant side-effects – some are almost as damaging as the disease itself, though in different ways.

Researchers are currently trying to better understand what causes vasculitis. Comparing what happens in different countries may help to find the answer – for example:

  • Takayasu arteritis (TA) is much more common in the Far East and in Africa than in the UK.
  • Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is extremely rare in India but very common in northern Europe.
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis is more common in northern Europe than in southern Europe.
  • Microscopic polyangiitis is more common in southern Europe than northern Europe.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have received funding from Arthritis Research UK to carry out a large genetic study to investigate whether common differences that we all carry in our genes might predispose some people to developing a disease called ANCA-associated vasculitis.

Other work also being carried out by scientists at the University of Cambridge is looking to increase our understanding of the role played by bacteria in the nose on the development of granulomatosis with polyangiitis. It is hoped the research may enable clinicians to predict those patients with a high risk of disease recurrence.

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