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

About the Australia and New Zealand Childhood Arthritis Risk factor Identification Study (ANZ CLARITY)

In this research project, we are establishing a national Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis biobank, called ANZ CLARITY (Australia and New Zealand ChiLdhood Arthritis Risk factor Identification sTudY). The ANZ Clarity Study is trying to find ways to better treat a form of childhood arthritis called JIA (Juvenile idiopathic arthritis).

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 people’s body fluid samples, such as blood, saliva and synovial fluid. These samples are called biospecimens. It will also collect people’s personal and health information. 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 they might make some children more likely to develop JIA. In an effort 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 may also learn why some children with JIA develop a worse type of the illness than others. 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.

Why is ANZ CLARITY so important?

The Australia 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 these diseases 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 saliva sample from participating children, and asking the 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.