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New funding for specialist arthritis research centres

Published on 08 March 2018

A close up of someone using a pipetteArthritis Research UK has announced new funding for three of its flagship research centres. Since launching in 2012, the centres, which specialise in adolescent rheumatology and osteoarthritis, have already laid the foundation for clinical advances. The new funding will run for five years and will help the researchers continue to explore how arthritis develops and potential ways to treat and prevent the condition.

Arthritis Research UK supports exceptional research that aims to prevent the onset of arthritis, develop a cure for arthritis and transform the lives people living with the condition. As part of this, the charity funds 13 flagship research centres across the UK, focusing on a range of arthritis issues. The centres act as hubs, bringing together experts and resources needed to target areas that will deliver significant patient benefit.

The Arthritis Research UK Centre for Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis will use its new funding to take forward key discoveries and determine whether they can be developed as potential new treatments for the 8 million people living with the condition in the UK.

In its first five years, the centre has identified a number of cellular pathways that control breakdown of joint tissues in disease as well as pathways that promote repair of the cartilage. The team are now checking that these pathways are relevant to human disease and are exploring the best ways to target them. Other innovations include understanding how pain arises in the osteoarthritic joint. These findings align well with novel clinical trials in osteoarthritis pain that are likely to result in the approval of new effective drugs in the coming years.

Meanwhile, new funding will help researchers at the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis to build their understanding of the relationship between osteoarthritis, exercise, sport, injury and rehabilitation. Since it launched in 2012, the centre has released a series of studies exploring risk factors, by working with retired football, cricket and rugby players. The insight helps provide recreational sportspeople and elite athletes with evidence-based advice and exercise programmes to help them reduce the risk of injury and the development of osteoarthritis.

Finally, the funding boost will help to build understanding of how arthritis develops during adolescence, by supporting five more years of research at the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology (an award made in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity).

Researchers at the world’s first research centre dedicated to adolescent rheumatology have set up the Rheumatology BioBank, a repository of more than 700 biological samples from adolescents with various types of inflammatory arthritis and related conditions. By comparing the samples with those from healthy volunteers, the centre’s researchers hope to understand how and why arthritis develops during adolescence. The centre also explores how changes to the immune cells during puberty could play a role in arthritis and lupus. By understanding why and how puberty might act as a trigger to ‘switch on’ autoimmune diseases, the researchers hope the next five years will see them continue to open the door to new treatments for the future.

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