Investigating the role of a protein Rbfox1 in the development of osteoarthritis pain

Disease – Osteoarthritis      

Lead applicant – Dr Olga Baron   

Organisation – King’s College London     

Type of grant – ECR Pain Awards 2019    

Status of grant – Active from 9 September 2020       

Amount of the original award – £88,267.50   

Start date – 01 August 2020      

Reference – 22474 

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

This research aims to understand if a gene called Rbfox1 causes nerve hypersensitivity and pain in osteoarthritis. Rbfox1 is important for regulating hypersensitivity in nerves. The gene acts on many molecules in the body (including some involved in pain) and creates different versions of those molecules. Researchers want to identify if Rbfox1 causes molecule versions the be created that are involved in hypersensitivity and investigate if they are important for development of persistent pain in osteoarthritis.

Why is this research important?

Pain is the main reason for why people with osteoarthritis seek medical attention and treatment. Even after joint replacement surgery, approximately 20% of patients report continuing pain. Scientists think that the persistent pain may come from lasting changes in the nerves themselves, causing hypersensitivity where nerves respond to non-painful stimuli as if they were painful. Multiple studies looking at possible genetic causes of osteoarthritis pain have found that the Rbfox1 gene is somehow involved. This project aims to use animal models to identify the molecules Rbfox1 acts on, and how it changes them to cause hypersensitivity and pain in nerves.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Findings from this research will provide a wider understanding into the pain mechanisms of osteoarthritis and may be able to provide bases for a development of novel drugs which specifically target hypersensitivity.