Osteoarthritis - How do immune cells detect and help to repair cartilage damage?

Disease - Osteoarthritis

Lead applicant - Mr Andrew Hotchen

Organisation - University of Cambridge

Type of grant - Clinical Research Fellowship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £187,948.00

Start date - 01 July 2020

Reference - 22293

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

Research has suggested that cells of the immune system that help control inflammation play an important role in cartilage repair, by interacting with other cells in the joint (such as stem cells) and helping them to respond to cartilage damage. This research will explore in detail how a specific group of immune cells knowns as mononuclear phagocytes (MNPs) interact with cells that help repair cartilage.

Researchers will study immune cells in mice to characterize the exact immune cell types that are involved in the initiation of the cartilage repair process. They will analyse the amount and location of these cells in the joint, and how they interact with cells in the joint. These findings will be applied to human tissue to investigate the response of these cells to damage in the laboratory setting.

Why is this research important?

Osteoarthritis is a very common condition which can affect any joint in the body and damage cartilage tissue, which lines the joints and normally helps them move smoothly. Changes to the joint structure can cause or contribute to symptoms such as pain, swelling or difficulty in moving the joint normally. By better understanding the cartilage repair process, researchers may be able to identify how it can go wrong in osteoarthritis and pave the way for new treatments.

How will the findings benefit patients?

This research may lead to the development of new treatments for early stage osteoarthritis, to slow disease progression and therefore delay or prevent the need for joint replacement surgery. This will improve the quality of life for people with osteoarthritis thereby allowing them to continue to lead an active life. Subsequently, this will reduce the financial burden on healthcare providers.