Investigating stem cells in joint health and disease

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, sports injury

Lead applicant - Professor Cosimo De Bari

Organisation - University of Aberdeen

Type of grant - Programme Grant Full application

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £908,076.14

Start date - 1 June 2016

Reference - 20775

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The aim of this research programme is to utilise cutting-edge technologies to study the way the stem cells, found within the joint, maintain normal joint tissues or become abnormal in joint diseases such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Why is this research important?

The process of cartilage and bone destruction, leading to joint failure, is common to both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Recent studies have discovered the presence of stem cells in joint tissue. In disease, these can fail to repair cartilage and may themselves cause damage. This study will use state-of-the-art colour labelling technologies to track stem cells in the healthy and diseased joint, shedding light on the way stem cells maintain joint tissues, and identifying any specific stem cell types which may contribute to disease progression. This study will provide important information for investigating the basis of joint disease.

How will the findings benefit patients?

The ultimate goal of this study is to dissect the functions of stem cells in joint health and disease. This will provide a scientific basis for the drug targeting of stem cells to treat arthritis. The study therefore does not just aim to prevent the progression of joint damage in people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but also trigger the repair of damaged tissue, returning joint function to patients.