Targeting body clocks in joint cartilage towards therapies for osteoarthritis

Disease - Osteoarthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Qing-Jun Meng

Organisation - University of Manchester

Type of grant - Senior Research Fellowship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £843,918

Start date - 1 September 2015

Reference - 20875

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

Our internal body clock is responsible for generating 24 hour rhythms in both our behaviour and the activity of the cells and organs in our bodies. Shift work and ageing are known to reset the internal body clock, disrupting our normal day-to-day rhythm. A link between the body clock and the health of the cartilage in our joints has been identified. The aim of this research is to determine whether changes in the setting of our body clock are linked to the damage to joint cartilage seen in osteoarthritis (OA).

Why is this research important?

It is possible that our body clocks have a role in controlling the normal day to day repair of joint cartilage. In diseases such as osteoarthritis, something triggers this repair to become inadequate, leading to the damage seen in the joints of patients with OA. If the body clock is found to have a role in cartilage health, this will be a major step forward in our understanding of normal cartilage and may provide more clues to how osteoarthritis occurs.

This research project will investigate the links between the body clock and cartilage health in different types of mice, some of which have been bred to have an abnormal body clock. Stem cells, a type of cell which act as a repair kit for the body, will be used to investigate the effect on cartilage health of normal day-to-day body temperature changes which are also linked to the body clock.

How will the findings benefit patients?

This research will significantly advance our understanding of how body clock disruption (e.g. during ageing) could increase the risk of a person developing osteoarthritis. This may help us to identify new ways of preventing and treating OA.