How do gut bacteria influence the development of rheumatoid arthritis?

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant -  Dr Christopher Rooney

Organisation - University of Leeds

Type of grant - Clinical Research Fellowship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £237,902.10

Start date - 12 September 2019

Reference - 22294

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research? 

This research project is looking at how bacteria in the gut can lead to the development of rheumatoid arthritis in people who are considered at risk of developing the condition.

Why is this research important?

Previous research has shown that changes to the population of bacteria in our gut is linked to a variety of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis.

The study will involve identifying the different bacteria in the gut (by collecting faecal samples) from people who are known to be at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. By repeating sample collection several times in one year, the researchers will track the changes that occur in the gut bacteria as some people develop rheumatoid arthritis.

This will help to understand which gut bacteria are connected to the development of the condition. Understanding which bacteria are involved in this early stage of the disease will provide better prediction of individuals who might develop rheumatoid arthritis in the future and potentially discover new ways of treating rheumatoid arthritis.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Identifying the bacteria in the gut, which are linked to development of rheumatoid arthritis, could lead to new ways to predict the development of rheumatoid arthritis. It may be possible to identify individuals most at risk of developing the condition, and therefore select treatment suited for them.

There may also be the potential to develop new treatments that change the gut bacteria, to alter an individual’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. However, this would require further research to better understand how the gut bacteria influence inflammatory arthritis before new treatments could be developed.