Understanding how cartilage damage is affected by newly discovered proteins

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Lead applicant - Dr Angus Wann

Organisation - University of Oxford

Type of grant - PhD Scholarship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £154,411.34

Start date - 2 October 2017

Reference - 21546

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

In healthy individuals, cartilage cells release enzymes, or biological scissors, to break up the surrounding joint tissue and then the cells take back up these enzymes to prevent damage of the joint tissue. However, in arthritis the ability to take back up the enzymes is faulty, resulting in cartilage damage. The aim of this research is to try to further understand this process.

Why is this research important?

This research is important because it will look at how to correct the damaging effect that enzymes have on the joint tissue in many forms of arthritis. Previously, not much was understood about how cartilage cells take back up enzymes and prevent cartilage damage in healthy individuals. However, this research group have recently discovered new proteins which control this ability. The discovery of these new proteins is important as it will help us to understand this process further and see whether these proteins can be targeted by drugs to promote enzyme uptake, thereby reducing cartilage damage in the joint, in people with arthritis.

How will the finding benefit patients?

Cartilage breakdown is the main cause of symptoms in many types of arthritis. If researchers are able to reduce and limit the amount of cartilage damage with drugs, by targeting these new proteins known to control uptake of enzymes into cartilage cells, many of these symptoms could be reduced in the future.