Developing a new method to image blood vessel formation in rheumatoid arthritis

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Dr Toby Garrood

Organisation - Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

Type of grant - Translation

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £96,457.65

Start date - 1 October 2018

Reference - 22034

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in joints. Currently clinical assessment and ultrasound are used to look at inflammation in patients, however this is time-consuming and can limit assessment to a few joints in a routine appointment. The aim of this research is to compare ultrasound to a new, quicker imaging technique to assess inflammation.

Why is this research important?

During rheumatoid arthritis, inflamed tissue in the joint has lots of new blood vessel formation. This is closely linked to the overall level of inflammation and can be predictive of future joint damage. This research aims to image these blood vessels by specifically labelling proteins that are found in inflamed joints and detecting them using nuclear imaging equipment. This imaging technique can detect proteins or other molecules labelled with very low risk radioactive isotopes, and is already used in other medical applications. Initial research has shown imaging proteins linked to inflammation in this way produces similar assessment results to ultrasound, while allowing a quicker scan of the whole body. This research project aims to test a larger number of patients with rheumatoid arthritis to confirm the effectiveness of this technique.

How will the findings benefit patients?

If developed successfully this technique could provide a quick, accessible tool for doctors to assess inflammation of the joints, helping to better evaluate inflammation and inform treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.