Controlling inflammatory cells in rheumatoid arthritis

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Irina Udalova

Organisation - University of Oxford

Type of grant - PhD Scholarship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £153,027.34

Start date - 1 October 2015

Reference - 20966

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The aim of this research is to investigate how IRF5, a molecule that causes inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, is controlled and to identify ways in which it might be blocked.

Why is this research important?

Macrophages are white blood cells which have an important role in the development of many diseases where your immune system attacks healthy tissue (autoimmune), including rheumatoid arthritis. IRF5 stimulates and activates macrophages, leading to increased inflammation. If the action of this molecule could be blocked, it may provide a new way of turning off the abnormal inflammatory process in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Little is known about how IRF5 activates macrophages and brings about inflammation. This research group have identified some potential ways by which IRF5 might be controlling these disease processes. These will be initially investigated in the laboratory using state-of-the-art technology, which will be followed by testing of molecules which inhibit IRF5 in mouse models of rheumatoid arthritis.

How will the findings benefit patients?

In the short term, this research will significantly contribute to our understanding of the molecular processes involved in rheumatoid arthritis. In the long term, this work has the potential to lead to the discovery of new of anti-inflammatory drugs for use in many autoimmune diseases, not just rheumatoid arthritis.