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Top arthritis and cancer scientists work together on ideas which could lead to new treatments

Arthritis Today Winter 2017 Issue 174Antibodies under a microscopeA collaboration between Arthritis Research UK and Cancer Research UK is bringing together leading research scientists specialising in inflammatory arthritis and cancer to share expertise and explore ideas which could lead to exciting new treatments for both diseases.

The body’s immune system plays a vital role in the development of both inflammatory arthritis and cancer. In cancer the immune system is underactive, failing to attack unhealthy cells which leads to the growth of tumours. While in rheumatoid arthritis the immune system becomes overactive, attacking healthy cells by mistake causing inflammation and pain.

Boosting our understanding of how the immune system can be disrupted and tipped out of balance, and how it reacts in response to these very different diseases, will help scientists to discover if the body’s natural defence system could be harnessed to create effective treatments for cancer and inflammatory arthritis.

So, during July 2017, 28 leading researchers worked together over three days to share knowledge and devise and pitch research ideas that could transform our understanding of arthritis and cancer. People with personal experience of arthritis and cancer were also there to keep researchers focused on the bigger picture and the potential impact their ideas could have on people’s lives. As a result, three exciting new studies exploring the immune system have been funded by both charities, each starting in January 2018.

Exploring the challenge together

Dr Natalie Carter, Head of Research Liaison and Evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, says: "The immune system continues to intrigue and test us, challenging scientists all over the world with its complexity. We believe asking experts in both cancer and arthritis research to explore this challenge together for the first time will give us the best chance to boost our understanding. We hope by investing in these joint studies we can change the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people affected by these diseases every year."

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Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.