We're using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.

By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you're agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more
For more information, go to

Can small packages of proteins be used in treating cartilage breakdown in arthritis?

Award Details

  • Principal Investigator
    Miss Sarah Emily Headland
  • Type of grant
    Foundation Fellowship
  • Amount Awarded
  • Institute
    Queen Mary University of London
  • Location
  • Status
  • Start Date
  • Grant reference number
  • Condition
    Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis

This fellowship ended earlier than planned. We were pleased to be able to use the remaining award funding to continue the research project as a research progression award, find out more here.

What are the aims of this research?

Previous work in this area has shown that some small “packages” of proteins released by cells, termed microparticles, can burrow into the cartilage to provide protection to the cartilage cells. This foundation fellowship aims to investigate how these microparticles provide this protection and also explore the possibility of improving their effectiveness by loading them with drugs, so that they can be used to treat arthritis.

Why is this research important?

Current treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can have many side effects, offer only limited relief from pain and swelling for patients, and do not prevent the main cause of disability, which is the breakdown of the cartilage in the joints. Microparticles released by the immune system have been shown to trigger the body’s own repair mechanisms, promoting restoration of cartilage inside the joint. There is the potential to take a blood sample from patients, load the patient’s own microparticles with therapeutic drugs that are currently used routinely in clinical practice, and deliver them directly to their affected joints via injection.

How will the findings benefit patients?

This research could result in the discovery of an entirely new type of therapy for arthritis, allowing for the targeted delivery of drugs with lower doses and fewer side effects. The injection of the treatment into the joints would be a much better, less invasive option than surgery for patients. Microparticles also offer the advantage of both protecting and repairing joint cartilage.

We're now

Versus Arthritis.

You're being taken through to our new website in order to finish your donation.

Thank you for your generosity.

For more information, go to
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.