Do gut bacteria influence immunity and rheumatoid arthritis?

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Daniel Altmann

Organisation - Imperial College London

Type of grant - Special Strategic Award

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £296,650.61

Start date - 1 June 2016

Reference - 21135

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The aims of this research are to investigate whether bacteria in the gut can influence an individual’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and how differences in the type of bacteria can be correlated with features of the patients' immune cells.

Why is this research important?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a complex disease in which the bodys' immune system turns against its own tissues. Risk of developing this condition is known to have both genetic and environmental causes. A previous study found that a particular group of bacteria were found more commonly in stool samples of patients affected by rheumatoid arthritis than those who were not. This study is not only looking for the bacteria that may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis but also the reason behind the increased susceptibility.

How will the findings benefit patients?

There are already a number of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis that work by acting on human cells associated with this condition. Through increasing the understanding of the role of bacteria in rheumatoid arthritis this study could lead to the design of a whole new class of treatment options.