The role of microRNAs in osteoarthritis

Disease - Osteoarthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Ian Clark

Organisation - University of East Anglia

Type of grant - PhD Scholarship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £143,090.49

Start date - 1 October 2017

Reference - 21574

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

MicroRNAs are important molecules in the body that control the way that genes are switched on and off. Recently, it has been found that a particular type of microRNA is altered in the cartilage during osteoarthritis. This research aims to further uncover the role that these microRNAs play in disease.

Why is this research important?

Painkillers are the first line of treatment for osteoarthritis, but they often have side effects and provide inadequate pain relief for many patients. It is essential to further understand how osteoarthritis develops, to identify new treatment options.

Previously, this research group has shown that a particular type of microRNA plays a key role in controlling cartilage cell behaviour and maintaining cartilage in the laboratory. MicroRNAs have potential to be the targets of new treatments in osteoarthritis.

The researchers have a good understanding of the function of microRNAs in cells, but now need to understand their functions in mice with osteoarthritis. By doing this, the research group has the potential to design a new approach to treating this disease, which either alters the microRNA level in cartilage or alters its function. As part of their studies, the research group will use mice which are lacking these specific microRNAs. They will then study the effect of this in natural ageing in mice with osteoarthritis. This is an essential step to translate findings in the laboratory to the clinic.

How will the finding benefit patients?

The findings from this research will hopefully be able to be used to inform the future development of new drugs for the repair of diseased and damaged joints in patients with osteoarthritis.