Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research (CMAR)

Disease - Muscle weakness

Lead applicant - Professor Janet Lord

Organisation - University of Birmingham

Type of grant - Centre of Excellence

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £1,000,000

Start date - 1 July 2017

Reference - 21986

Public Summary

This grant is jointly funded with the Medical Research Council (MRC). Versus Arthritis is contributing £1,000,000 and the MRC £849,596 with extra support from the host institutes.

What are the aims of this research?

The MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research (CMAR) integrates the work of world class researchers, clinicians and healthcare professionals at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham. The research based at the centre focusses on understanding how and why we lose muscle, bone and cartilage as we age, and the role played by factors such as inflammation, metabolism, altered hormones and obesity in this process. Established in 2012, the centre has now been renewed for a further 5 years. The centre aims to:

  • Increase understanding of the mechanisms influencing the rate of ageing of the musculoskeletal system and how these may lead to frailty and disease
  • develop and test treatments to improve musculoskeletal health
  • develop strong national and international networking to create a significant Healthy Musculoskeletal Ageing research, training and dissemination facility
  • increase use of existing patient groups and data to support the aims of the centre
  • work with key policy and health practice influencers, industry and patient groups to find routes to translate the centre research into health benefits.

Why is this research important?

An increasing number of people are living longer but not healthier, with adults in the UK on average now spending the last decade of life in poor health. Decline in our musculoskeletal system (muscle, bone, cartilage and tendon), and diseases of the joints such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, are major contributors to ill health in old age.

The Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research aims to understand the age-related loss of musculoskeletal function and the role played by lifestyle (physical inactivity and obesity) in influencing this process. Physical activity and diet-based interventions are tested by the centre to ensure these are effective in older adults. The centre also includes motivational psychology research to develop approaches that encourage people to adopt healthy lifestyles. The outcomes of this research will offer a way forward for delaying age-related changes in the musculoskeletal system.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Age-related loss of musculoskeletal function has major clinical consequences, including increased risk of falls and fracture, osteoarthritis and pain. This centre aims to improve the quality of life for individuals in old age by investigating how humans age and the effects that this process has on the musculoskeletal system.

Applying knowledge that the researchers acquire to understanding the link between ageing and the development of arthritis will increase the impact of the research further, potentially revealing new routes to the prevention or treatment of arthritis. Applying exercise interventions to those with established disease can help reduce pain and fatigue and improve quality of life.