Centre for Genetics and Genomics Versus Arthritis

Disease - Juvenile idiopathic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Anne Barton

Organisation - University of Manchester

Type of grant - Centre of Excellence Full

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £1,999,950.52

Start date - 1 August 2018

Reference - 21754

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The Centre for Genetics and Genomics Versus Arthritis originally launched in 2012 and has already made a major contribution to the identification of genetic markers that determine the risk of developing arthritis. The centre has now been funded for a further five years to build on this work and improve the lives of people living with arthritis. Research will be focused through two main programmes:

  1. They will firstly focus on Translational Genetics, meaning that the findings from the first five years will be progressed, in order to prevent disease, predict treatment response, and personalise treatment to the individual.
  2. Secondly, they will focus on Functional Genomics, which will aim to understand exactly how genetic changes cause the immune system to malfunction and lead to the development of arthritis.

Why is this research important?

Research at the centre focuses on rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis because these conditions represent the majority of people who visit adult and children’s rheumatology clinics. In addition, treatments for these conditions do not work for everyone. Large genetic studies by this research team and others have identified numerous genetic regions that make individuals more likely to develop each disease. These results now need to be taken further and translated to treatments that will benefit people living with these conditions or prevent disease development in the future.

In the translational genetics programme of work, projects will focus on using clinical information and blood-based markers to define subgroups of people who are more likely to respond to a treatment. They will also investigate whether genetic tests can be used to predict if a person will develop a disease, with a view to future prevention trials. In addition, they will use this genetic knowledge to repurpose drugs approved for other diseases which could also benefit people with arthritis. In the functional genomics programme of work, cutting edge technology such as gene editing will be used to study the effects on disease development when certain disease-associated genes are changed.

How will the findings benefit patients?

In collaboration with experts around the world, this centre will build on their findings over the past five years to ensure translation to patient benefit. This includes focusing on research to prevent disease, predict treatment response and personalise treatments, as well as gaining a greater understanding of disease-associated genes. This understanding and information is believed to be vital in order to work towards curing or preventing arthritis.

For more information on the centre, visit the centre's website.