The role of proteins in causing pain and inflammation in arthritis

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Derek Gilroy

Organisation - University College London

Type of grant - PhD Scholarship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £156,501.86

Start date - 1 October 2018

Reference - 21920

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

It is thought that chronic inflammation may continue in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis due to a lack of ability to heal or resolve. Previous research has identified a new group of proteins, which are thought to be anti-inflammatory and help drive the healing process. The aim of this research is to test whether these particular proteins, known as mediators, along with drugs that increase their levels, can be used to promote healing in the inflammatory cells that drive rheumatoid arthritis.

Why is this research important?

Inflammation is the main cause of the pain and damage in many joint diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. Understanding how chronic inflammation persists in these conditions, could ultimately lead to development of new drugs to relieve pain or cure the condition.

This research will investigate these proteins believed to be involved in the healing process, and test whether they control the growth of cells involved in inflammation. The researchers will do this by extracting different types of immune cells from blood and investigating how the mediators affect inflammation in these cells.

They will also look at skin samples from people with rheumatoid arthritis and without to see if the processes they believe to be important are present in these samples. Then they will look at healthy volunteers to investigate whether new drugs can increase levels of these proteins that may be involved in the healing process.

How will the findings benefit patients?

There are already potential drugs that act by changing the behaviour of the mediators that will be investigated in this research, and these have been tested for safety in humans in the past few years. The findings of this research will therefore identify whether these drugs should be further tested for success in clinical trials. This has the potential to lead to availability of drugs with anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties for people with rheumatoid arthritis.