Improving the quality of life of people with joint pain by targeting the stress regulator FKBP51

Disease - Osteoarthritis, knee pain

Lead applicant - Dr Sandrine Geranton

Organisation - University College London

Type of grant - Invited Research Award

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £350,955.26

Start date - 1 September 2018

Reference - 21972

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

People living with joint pain often experience symptoms such as low mood, anxiety, fatigue and memory impairment, conditions that altogether significantly impact well-being, and quality of life. The aim of this study is to investigate a new treatment designed to reduce pain, and improve sleep, fatigue and mood-related disorders.

Why is this research important?

A significant number of people with arthritis live with severe pain that is not adequately managed with current treatments. But as mentioned above, persistent pain is not the only consequence of arthritis. The researchers will investigate the potential of the protein FKBP51 that regulates the stress pathways in the brain.

Previous research in mice has shown that blocking this protein with a drug has antidepressant-like effects, improves sleep, and reduces signs of pain in mice with an inflamed joint. In the study, they will use mice with arthritis to test whether blocking the protein FKBP51 can improve the quality of life that has been impaired by joint pain, and in turn improve joint health and inflammation.

How will the findings benefit patients?

There has not been much fundamental research into the mood, sleep and cognitive disorders associated with arthritis, and as such there is a lack of treatments available to alleviate them and improve a persons’ quality of life. This project has the potential to provide a better understanding of the mood, sleep and cognitive disorders as well as fatigue associated with joint pain. Importantly, this study could provide a new treatment approach that could improve a range of conditions often associated with arthritis. It may lead to clinical trials in people with arthritis, and in the future, new pain-relieving drugs based around the blockage of the protein FKBP51 could potentially be developed.