Personalised treatment for childhood arthritis (the CLUSTER consortium)

Disease - Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Lucy Wedderburn

Organisation - University College London

Type of grant - Special Strategic Award

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £500,000

Start date - 1 May 2018

Reference - 22084

Public Summary

This grant is jointly funded with the Medical Research Council, with additional contributions from Great Ormond Street Children’s Charity (GOSHCC), and Olivia’s vision.

The total award is £3,566,362.40, of which Versus Arthritis is funding £500,000.

What are the aims of this research?

The overall aim of this research is to define subgroups of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), and its associated eye inflammation (uveitis), based on mechanisms of disease or response to treatments. This could ultimately lead to personalised treatment decisions to be made for each individual, by measuring specific biomarkers that help to predict an individual’s response to treatment, and also inform us to how the condition may progress.

Why is this research important?

Despite improvements in the management of JIA, many children still undergo prolonged treatment with multiple drugs that may not work, leading to side effects and uncontrolled inflammation. It is known that early treatment and control of JIA, and its associated eye inflammation (uveitis), leads to better outcomes long term. Being able to predict outcomes, and treatment response would allow doctors to choose the right medicine at the right time for each child.

This new project brings together leading researchers in childhood arthritis and uveitis, to address this current unmet need. The research will involve identifying biomarkers that help predict treatment response, as well as looking at mechanisms of response to treatment. The researchers aim to identify predictors of getting uveitis for children with JIA, to improve screening protocols and prevent vision loss.

How will the findings benefit patients?

The researchers hope that this work will speed up the availability of personalised medicine for childhood arthritis. It is hoped that if the right treatment can be provided at the right time then this will reduce side effects, improve quality of life, and in turn reduce costs to the health service and society.