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Local MPs and MSP visit prestigious Glasgow research centre

Published on 12 February 2018

Alison Thewliss MP, Bill Kidd MSP and Carol Monaghan at the Arthritis Research UK Rheumatoid Arthritis Pathogenesis Centre of ExcellenceAlison Thewliss MP, Bill Kidd MSP and Carol Monaghan MP all visited the Arthritis Research UK Rheumatoid Arthritis Pathogenesis Centre of Excellence (RACE), at the University of Glasgow on Friday (9 February), to learn about the impact of arthritis on their local constituents and the current investment in arthritis research across Scotland.

The centre, which is funded by Arthritis Research UK, investigates the causes of and potential treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, a painful autoimmune disease which affects over 400,000 people in the UK. Data analysed by the charity reveals that nearly 37,000 people in Scotland have rheumatoid arthritis, with 8,000 of those living in Glasgow and Clyde.

The impact of rheumatoid arthritis and other types arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, on society and the economy is considerable. Together, these conditions are the largest single cause of workplace absence in the UK, resulting in 30.8 million working days lost each year. Arthritis Research UK are working with politicians across the spectrum to help them shape the research and policy agendas, so that people with arthritis can live fulfilling lives.

Bringing together expertise

Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation in the joints, leading to chronic pain and fatigue. Although drug treatments have improved considerably over the years, many people with the condition still have difficulty doing things most of us take for granted, like getting to work, climbing the stairs or getting dressed independently.

The research centre brings together expertise from universities in Glasgow, Birmingham and Newcastle, to investigate why rheumatoid arthritis develops and persists, which could then allow the development of new and more effective treatments. Just one example of the research taking place at the centre, is investigating whether the most effective drug for a patient can be identified by examining their joint tissue. The researchers hope that this will lead to a personalised medicine approach, guiding clinicians on the best treatment for each individual patient.

The three politicians, whose constituencies are all in Glasgow, were given a tour of the research labs and met researchers and staff from Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care Scotland, who have recently merged to do more to help people with arthritis to live full and active lives.

"Keen to raise the profile of the issues affecting people with arthritis"

Alison Thewliss, Glasgow Central MP, said: "I greatly enjoyed my visit to Arthritis Research UK’s RACE centre, here in Glasgow. It was very interesting to hear about the important work being carried out to help make everyday life better for people living with arthritis in Scotland. I’m keen to raise the profile of the issues affecting people with arthritis at Westminster, and to help protect our position as a global leader in science, sustaining the benefits the life-science sector brings to the economy.

"Together we can fight this painful condition that has a devastating impact on the lives of people in Scotland."

Stephen Simpson, Director of Research at Arthritis Research UK, said: "We hope that today’s visit will encourage all parliamentarians to think about the needs of people with arthritis in their local constituency, recognise that arthritis research should be a priority, and take action to ensure that Scotland’s contribution to medical research continues to be supported.

"Our charity supports over £17 million of research in Scotland. The focus has not just been at looking at the cure of arthritis, but also at interventions which could positively transform the quality of life of people living with arthritis today."

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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.