Developing new treatments to target FGF in people with rheumatoid arthritis who do not respond to other treatments

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Costantino Pitzalis

Organisation - Queen Mary University of London

Type of grant - Accelerating new treatments 2020

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £298,726.50

Start date - 1 December 2021

Reference - 22714

What are the aims of this research?

To better understand sub-types of rheumatoid arthritis and test treatments targeted towards people with this type of the condition.

Why is this research important?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body, causing pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints of people living with the condition. Refractory rheumatoid arthritis occurs when there has been no effective treatment found to treat the condition, causing continued pain, joint damage and disability.

Research has revealed inflammation is not the same in all people with rheumatoid arthritis, and different cells and molecules may contribute to the inflammation. Researchers have identified one particular sub-group who do not respond to other treatments, but have high levels of a molecule called fibroblast growth factor (FGF). Therefore, FGF could be a target for a new treatments to bring rheumatoid arthritis under control in people who do not respond to other treatment.

In this project researchers how to better understand how FGF contributes to inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. They’ll also test if targeting it with drugs could reduce inflammation in cells and in mice.

How will these findings benefit patients?

There is a major unmet clinical need to treat refractory rheumatoid arthritis. This research will improve understanding of the condition and explore if novel drugs that target FGF but be of benefit to people with rheumatoid arthritis for whom current drugs do not work.