We’re calling on the Government to increase funding into musculoskeletal research. Will you join us?

02 July 2024
Researcher Dr David Wilkinson standing in a laboratory

We know the power of research. That’s because we've been behind some of the biggest ever leaps forward in arthritis care and treatment.

Take anti-TNF medicines. These have transformed the way we treat inflammatory arthritis, changed the lives of two million people worldwide – and they were discovered thanks in part to our research.

But the truth is, our work isn't done yet.

We want to make more groundbreaking discoveries in the lab, clinic and community. And we want to provide new treatments and bring real hope for a better tomorrow.

Right now, the UK Government funds £69 million of research into musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions. But this doesn’t match the measurable impact these conditions have on people across the UK.

We believe research investment needs to be increased significantly. Plus, we believe there needs to be better promotion and support for the research environment in the NHS and universities.

We’re stronger when we work together.

We need local parliamentary candidates to understand how they can stand up for our community if they’re elected - including increasing funding into musculoskeletal research.

Will you join us and write to your local candidates asking them to stand up for people with arthritis if they’re elected?

Email your candidates


Meet our researcher, David

Dr David Wilkinson using pipetteOur researchers are working tirelessly to find better treatments, therapies and, hopefully, cures for arthritis.

One of these is Dr David Wilkinson, a biochemist funded by Versus Arthritis. A biochemist is a scientist who studies the chemistry of living things.

David’s research is focused on osteoarthritis, a condition which can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints.

Our joints are made of complex living tissue that our bodies constantly repair and maintain. But osteoarthritis occurs when our bodies can no longer do this effectively.

Osteoarthritis is often wrongly described as ‘wear and tear’. But our researchers believe that it’s an active process that involves enzymes. These are tiny protein molecules that speed up chemical reactions in the body. In the case of osteoarthritis, enzymes may support a chemical reaction that breaks down cartilage in your joints.

“My lab focuses on osteoarthritis – a disease often described as ‘wear and tear’,” Dr Wilkinson explains.

“In fact, the cartilage which protects the ends of our bones is destroyed in an active process, driven by enzymes acting like ‘molecular scissors’. We are working to understand these enzymes and how we can stop them.

“We are just one of many arthritis research groups across the country working at every stage – from discovery science to clinical trials.

“Musculoskeletal research relies heavily on funding from superb charities such as Versus Arthritis. A significant boost in government-funded arthritis research would help to truly unlock the potential of the UK’s world-leading life sciences sector, seeking the next breakthrough for these debilitating diseases.”

Dr David Wilkinson, Protein Biochemist, University of Liverpool.

What must the next UK Government do to improve musculoskeletal research?

We’re calling on the next UK Government to:

  • Increase funding into musculoskeletal research by at least £114 million to £183 million a year to match its substantial impact on the UK population.
  • Incentivise charitable research in universities and the NHS through appropriate financial support.
  • Strengthen the pipeline for Clinical Academics – the researchers of the future. Incentivise and facilitate this career path to maintain the UK’s position as a global leader in research.

“Over the years, Versus Arthritis has been a pioneer in medical research into musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis, but the Government’s own research investment in this area hasn’t kept pace with its growing impact... We need additional investment in life-changing research to find the treatments of tomorrow.”

Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive at Versus Arthritis.

Email your candidates now
Images of people living with arthritis and text that reads '10 million reasons to take arthritis seriously'

Our manifesto for people with arthritis

We won’t rest until arthritis is taken seriously. That’s why we’ve created a manifesto calling on the next UK Government to do more to support people living with arthritis.

As well as increasing funding into musculoskeletal research, we’re also urging the next UK Government to:

  • Bring down waiting times for people with arthritis and support them while waiting.
  • Ensure arthritis is a priority in national health plans including improved data.
  • Strengthen care and support for children and young people with arthritis.
  • Improve work-related support for people with arthritis.
Read our manifesto in full

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