1. Purpose of the Study
Disorders of the musculoskeletal system that are associated with ageing, such as arthritis, are an increasing problem within our population. It has been estimated that more than 60% of men and women over the age of 60 will be affected by some type of musculoskeletal disease during their lifetime, and they will experience significant pain and disability because of it.
Unfortunately, there are few treatments available for these conditions and a lot of more research is needed. We must acquire a greater understanding of the causes of musculoskeletal disease in order to develop more effective treatments and identify appropriate preventative measures for the generations of the future.
The Department of Rheumatology at Royal North Shore Hospital is currently investigating the causes of musculoskeletal diseases. We are studying how people may be predisposed to developing these disorders due to the characteristics they inherit from their parents. In order to investigate the way that genes influence bones and joints, we are asking both non-identical and identical twins to participate in the study. The support that twins have given to research into osteoarthritis in the past has already made a significant contribution to this area, but there are many questions that remain unresolved. For instance, it has been discovered that weight is related to the development of osteoarthritis so it may that these two conditions are connected by a specific gene. With the cooperation of twins such as yourself we are hopeful of finding answers to some of them.
2. Method of twin studies
Because identical twins have the same genes, whatever differences exist between them must be due to environmental differences. On the other hand differences in non-identical twins may be a result of variations in their genes. So for a genetic disorder (such as osteoarthritis/ osteoporosis) non-identical twins are more informative/useful.
These studies are not only helpful in establishing how genes affect particular conditions they are also useful in determining how lifestyle and environment can influence the risk of disease.
After establishing genetic risk scientists can then explore what genes may be responsible and hopefully identify treatments for these conditions.
3. Our Research
Our research is focused primarily on three areas-namely osteoarthritis, bone disease and cardiovascular disease.
Our interest in osteoarthritis stems from the fact that it is very common (50% of people over the age of 65 are affected), at present treatment options are limited, and evidence suggests that genes are a major contributor in development. Osteoporosis is similarly strongly genetic.
4. Potential Benefits
Your involvement in this research may not be of any direct benefit to you. On your request, the results of tests can be forwarded to you or your general practitioner.
5. Voluntary Participation
Your participation in this study is entirely voluntary. If you decide to participate, you can withdraw your consent at any time. Your decision on whether to enter this study or withdraw from it will not affect your medical care or your relationship with staff at the Royal North Shore Hospital.
6. Other Information
If you have any questions about the study, please feel free to contact Professor Sambrook on 9926 7111 or Lesley Hawkins on 1800 500 431.
7. Financial Considerations
All tests will be performed free of charge. In some special circumstances we may be able to offer you some form of assistance with transport to attend the study visit.