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Interleukin Genetics, Inc. (ILIU.QB) Details Findings of Huge Osteoarthritis Study

Interleukin Genetics, – developer of the Inherent Health® brand of genetic test systems like the proprietary PST® genetic risk panel for periodontal disease and susceptibility to tooth loss and the Weight Management Genetic Test for determining ideal exercise/diet based on personal genetics, announced exciting Osteoarthritis (OA) findings today in conjunction with the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Data from the large clinical study, which was aimed at quantifying the role genetic factors play in the progression of osteoarthritis, indicates a nearly doubled propensity for the disease to progress to a “severe” stage in patients who inherited a specific pattern of genetic variations in the interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) gene.

Covering 11 years and some 1,154 patients, the study generated a wealth of robust data which will be presented at the upcoming World Congress on Osteoarthritis this week in Brussels.

Holding patents on specific genetic patterns leading to over-production of interleukin-1 (IL-1, a key chemical involved in cartilage/bone destruction) and in the naturally occurring inhibitors which are predictive of IL-1 (and OA progression), ILIU is well-positioned for the future development of a genetic test for progressive OA susceptibility.

Herman & Louise Smith Distinguished Professor of Medicine (and Chief, Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Immunology at the Thurston Center), Dr. Joanne Jordan, noted that this was the first study of its kind to include both Caucasian and African-American subjects and to examine genetic, radiographic, serologic, physical and functional characteristics.

Dr. Jordan described the strong association between progressive OA and the IL-1Ra gene variations revealed in the study as a good indicator that the IL-1Ra genetic information could be exploited for testing purposes and used to select patients for future clinical trials.

CSO at ILIU, Dr. Kenneth Kornman, asseverated Dr. Jordan’s statements and noted in particular how difficult drug development for OA has been as a whole, due in large part to the difficulty of screening patients for clinical trials, and suggested that the clinical utility of a genetic test for progressive OA susceptibility was significant.

Osteoarthritis is in the top 10 of most costly-to-treat diseases, according to the HHS, totaling some $34B in 2005 alone, with joint replacement surgery accounting for the largest segment.

As the greatest cause of physical disability in the US, OA stands as a daunting challenge which historically has been like a black box, confounding drug development efforts and resulting in the sad reality that there are currently zero drugs approved for modifying the progression of this debilitating disease.

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