A new way to switch off unwanted inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Dr Helen Wright

Organisation - University of Liverpool

Type of grant - PhD Scholarship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £143,064.39

Start date - 1 October 2019

Reference - 22193

What are the aims of this research?

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell involved in the body’s healing processes, however they have been shown to behave differently in rheumatoid arthritis. In this condition, neutrophils can activate a number of chemical processes that contribute to the inflammation that causes joint damage. Although research has provided insight into some of these chemical processes, a greater understanding is necessary.

Previous research has revealed differences in the underlying genetics of healthy human neutrophils compared with those from rheumatoid arthritis patients. This project aims to further compare neutrophils in the lab, to unpick the chemical differences that cause inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. This may allow researchers to identify biological targets for treatment.

Why is this research important?

Neutrophils are the most abundant cell type found in the fluid of joints of rheumatoid arthritis patients, therefore understanding their role in inflammation and whether the reactions they are involved in can be targeted to improve treatments is an important research step. The researchers are particularly interested in how it may be possible to “switch off” or better regulate the unwanted chemical reactions of neutrophils that cause inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, and therefore reduce joint damage.

How will findings benefit patients?

Currently rheumatoid arthritis cannot always be successfully controlled in all patients, therefore aiming to develop new treatments is vital. Understanding the processes that occur in cells involved in rheumatoid arthritis may help to identify new targets for existing drug treatments or enable development of a new treatment. These treatments could regulate inflammation and therefore help to prevent joint damage.