What is VEXAS? Incidentally discovered disease is more common than previously thought

What is VEXAS? Incidentally discovered disease is more common than previously

Researchers in the US are shedding more light on VEXAS Syndrome, a mysterious, newly discovered medical condition believed to affect more than 15,000 Americans.

VEXAS was first identified just two years ago, when it was believed to be a rare inflammatory disease.

The 25 men found to be affected by the condition in 2020 all presented with a mutation in a gene called UBA1, which is thought to be the origin of the disease.

They also shared the same range of symptoms, including fever, low blood cell counts and inflammation.

Other symptoms of VEXAS are painful reddening of the skin; swelling and pain in the ears, nose and joints; cough and shortness of breath; extreme fatigue, anemia and blood clots.

The syndrome tends to affect older people and is much more common in men than women, although it can affect both.

According to researchers studying the syndrome, the disease is "progressive, and severe." In fact, it can be deadly. According to researchers, the average survival time for patients with this disease is 10 years.

The new study — conducted by many of the scientists who first identified the syndrome — analyzed the electronic health records of more than 160,000 people in Pennsylvania and found that the genetic mutation associated with VEXAS appeared in 1 in 4,000 older men .

The condition was present in 1 in 26,000 women over the age of 50.

While a treatment to cure the syndrome is not yet available, in the future the condition may be cured with a bone marrow transplant or gene editing therapy.