How replacing gut bacteria could treat people with axial spondyloarthritis

Disease - Axial Spondyloarthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Matthew Brown

Organisation - King’s College London

Type of grant - Accelerating new treatments

Status of grant - Pending start date

Amount of the original award - £245,229.000

Start date - 1 February 2022

Reference - 22717

What are the aims of this research?

This research aims to test the effectiveness of a new treatment for axial spondyloarthritis which replaces unhealthy bacteria in the gut with healthy bacteria. It’s hoped the treatment can manage the condition long term, is cost effective and easy to administer.

Why is this research important?

Axial spondylarthritis is a common type of arthritis which causes back pain, stiffness and fatigue. Currently there is no cure for axial spondyloarthritis and treatment options are limited. Common treatments involve drugs that suppress parts of the immune system, however many people do not respond to the treatment and still suffer from continued pain.

The bacteria found in the gut of people with axial spondyloarthritis has been found to be different to the bacteria in people without the condition. Research has also shown that gut bacteria influence the activity of the immune system, so this may be a route for new treatments. This research will test a treatment designed to replace unhealthy bacteria with healthy bacteria. The researchers aim to understand if the treatment is safe and well-tolerated and assess if it may be effective in the treatment of axial spondylarthritis and its symptoms. This treatment has been found effective in inflammatory bowel disease, a condition which many people with axial spondylarthritis also have.

How will these findings benefit patients?

If this research is successful, it could be a positive step towards a new treatment option for people with axial spondyloarthritis. The treatment has many benefits such as low cost, oral administration rather than injections, has minor side effects and is not associated with immunosuppression.