Sorting out the genetic basis of Dupuytren’s is not simply a matter of finding out which genes are involved. The goal is to understand the biochemistry of exactly what these specific genes do to either start or fail to stop the process of Dupuytren’s. Cell biology is always a domino like set of events with many steps. The DNA molecules in a cell’s genes act as a template to make messenger RNA (mRNA), which travels from the cell’s nucleus to its protein manufacturing factories (ribosomes), where the mRNA then acts as a template to string amino acids together to make proteins. Our bodies use some proteins, like collagen, as structural building material; other proteins, called cytokines, are used as currency of communication between cells, directing cells what to do. In this study, “Abnormal growth factor and cytokine expression in Dupuytren’s contracture” (full text: http://www.dupuytrenfoundation.org/DupPDFs/1993_Baird_1442.pdf), researchers analyzed the cytokines produced by mRNA in Dupuytren’s tissue, and found abnormal activity of interleukin-1a, interleukin-1ß, transforming growth factor ß and basic fibroblast growth factor. This approach, linking genes with proteins, brings us a step closer to solving the puzzle of a cure.
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