Understanding the role of gut bacteria to develop new treatments for inflammatory arthritis

Disease - Ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Fiona Powrie

Organisation - University of Oxford

Type of grant - Special Strategic Award

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £1,999,997.53

Start date - 1 April 2016

Reference - 21226

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

Rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthritis are common forms of inflammatory arthritis, the causes of which are not fully understood. Recent research suggests that bacteria that live in our gut, and the molecules they produce, may play an important role in causing the development and progression of inflammatory arthritis, and also in determining response to treatment. The aim of this research is to identify which bacteria in the gut play a role in the development of inflammatory arthritis.

Why is this research important?

This research will use new methods to compare the types of bacteria found in people with inflammatory arthritis and healthy people to discover if people with arthritis have abnormal communities of gut bacteria. The researchers hope that this will identify bacteria (or their products) that are associated with inflammatory arthritis. The researchers will check to see if the bacteria (or products) that they identify to be associated with arthritis in humans can trigger arthritis in mice.

Blood samples taken from people with arthritis will be analysed in the laboratory to see how cells in the immune system respond in the presence of the bacteria. Furthermore, the researchers will also examine which gut bacteria are present in people with inflammatory arthritis who are being treated with different drugs. This may reveal certain bacteria (or their products) which can predict how well people will respond to treatments.

How will the findings benefit patients?

The outcomes of this research will increase the understanding of the role played by gut bacteria in inflammatory arthritis and may lead to the development of new prevention methods or treatments for adults and children with inflammatory arthritis. This research may also help to gain insight into whether the presence of certain bacteria (or their products) in people with inflammatory arthritis can predict how well they respond to different treatments.