Australian and New Zealand Childhood Arthritis Risk factor Identification Study (ANZ CLARITY)

About the Australian and New Zealand Childhood Arthritis Risk factor Identification STudY (ANZ-CLARITY)

In this research project, we are establishing a national juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) biobank, called ANZ-CLARITY (Australian and New Zealand ChiLdhood Arthritis Risk factor Identification sTudY). The ANZCLARITY study working to better understand the form of childhood arthritis called JIA in hopes of improving care, identifying cause, and eventually, finding a cure.

JIA belongs to a group of illnesses called autoimmune diseases. Your body has an immune system, which fights germs and keeps you healthy. In autoimmune diseases the body’s immune system mistakes a normal part of the body for something foreign (like a germ), and starts attacking the body itself. In JIA the immune system attacks the joints and sometimes other body tissues. This is called an autoimmune process and we do not understand exactly how and why this happens. The symptoms of JIA are joint pain and swelling, stiffness (especially in the mornings), difficulty moving and sometimes fevers and rash. There is no cure for JIA.

It is estimated that around 6000 Australian children have a form of childhood arthritis.

The ANZ-CLARITY Biobank will collect  body fluid samples, such as blood, saliva and synovial fluid (joint fluid), from children with and without JIA. These samples are called biospecimens. It will also collect  personal and health information from these children. This is often referred to as data. The biospecimens and personal and health information will be stored at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). They will be used for research.

In 2008 the researchers started a Victorian JIA biobank called CLARITY (ChiLdhood Arthritis Risk factor Identification sTudY) so they could look at children’s genes and environment to see how these factors might make some children more likely to develop JIA. To increase the number of children participating in the biobank we are now extending our biobank to include children and their families with and without JIA from across Australia.  

By establishing a national JIA biobank we will have a greater chance of discovering why some children are more likely to develop JIA. We also hope to learn why some children with JIA develop a worse type of the illness than others, and why some children respond to treatment and some don’t. Long term, we hope that the new information will help researchers develop new treatments, come up with ideas for prevention, and better care for children and young people living with JIA. 

ANZ-CLARITY is also working closely with researchers at the University of Sydney and around the country to establish an Australian Arthritis and Autoimmune Biobank Collaborative (A3BC), to collect data and biospecimens from both children and adults for research into arthritis across all age groups. You can find out more about the A3BC project at www.a3bc.com.au

Why is ANZ-CLARITY so important?
The Australian and New Zealand ChiLdhood Arthritis Risk factor Identification sTudY (ANZ-CLARITY) is unique. This study looks at a child’s early life environment and genetic profile to try to:

  • identify the reasons JIA occurs among Australian children
  • improve knowledge on how to diagnose and treat JIA
  • improve knowledge on how to prevent JIA.

We hope that over time thousands of Australian children with and without JIA, and their families, will take part in this project. We hope to improve our understanding of JIA by comparing children and their families who do have this condition with those who do not. This will involve collecting DNA (the genetic code that determines all characteristics of a living thing) via a blood and/or a saliva sample from participating children, and asking families to complete a questionnaire about their environment. 

The success of this project depends on the generous contribution of children with and without JIA and their families. Each young person's information is valuable to the project and helps us better understand JIA. Thank you for your interest.

Want to know what ANZ-CLARITY is all about? In the video above, you can meet our lead investigators, Jane Munro and Justine Ellis, who head up the ANZ-CLARITY team at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne.