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Medical News & Perspectives
September 25, 2002

Arthritis Puzzle: Two Pieces Snap Into Place

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JAMA. 2002;288(12):1457-1458. doi:10.1001/jama.288.12.1457

Boston—Separate research groups at Brigham and Women's Hospital here are working to clarify the mysterious origins of rheumatoid arthritis, the most common autoimmune condition in the United States, affecting between 1% and 2% of the population. One group, led by a biochemist, reports that a previously unknown variety of immune cells may set off the painful condition by attacking carbohydrate molecules in the joints. The other group, led by a rheumatologist, identifies mast cells—known as the culprits behind allergic reactions—as responsible for the characteristic chronic inflammation.

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