Do lncRNAs control inflammation and joint damage in obesity related osteoarthritis?

Disease - Osteoarthritis

Lead applicant - Dr Simon Jones

Organisation - University of Birmingham

Type of grant - Invited Research Award

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £205,160.18

Start date - 14 May 2018

Reference - 21812

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are molecules that control genes, and in osteoarthritis they have been linked to controlling the inflammatory response, which is known to cause pain. Previous research has found that there is an increase in the amount of lncRNAs present in the knee lining of obese osteoarthritis patients. This study will determine whether lncRNAs control joint inflammation and damage in obesity related osteoarthritis

Why is this research important?

Inflammation of the joint lining is called synovitis, and contributes to the severity of pain felt in people with osteoarthritis. As current methods of pain relief don’t work for all people with osteoarthritis it is important to determine what controls this inflammation so new targets for pain relief drugs can be identified.

One potential group of molecules that could be targeted by pain relief drugs are lncRNAs, as they are key in controlling inflammation in osteoarthritis. The researchers will take samples of joint fluid from people with osteoarthritis who are either of normal weight or obese, to compare the amount of lncRNAs present. They will investigate how the lncRNAs function in both human and mouse cells and test a new medicine in mice with osteoarthritis, to see if it can turn off the lncRNAs to reduce pain.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Identifying the key factors that regulate joint inflammation is critical to developing new medicines that treat osteoarthritis. This research will provide new insights into determining how joint inflammation is increased in obese individuals, which could help to modify osteoarthritis progression, or prevent disease onset in “at risk” patients. If successful, this could allow for the development of a personalised, safe and effective new drug that specifically reduces pain in people with osteoarthritis and reduce the requirement for joint replacement surgery.