Finding behavioural and neural indicators of fatigue in inflammatory arthritis

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Dr Ben Seymour

Organisation - University of Cambridge

Type of grant - Project Grant

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £239,972

Start date - 1 October 2016

Reference - 21192

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

This research project will study the relationship between fatigue and inflammation by analysing the patient's behavioural changes as well as changes in the brain. Changes in the brain will be analysed to try and find a distinctive biological characteristic (called a biomarker) which can be used to identify fatigue in individuals with inflammatory arthritis.

Why is this research important?

People with inflammatory arthritis often experience debilitating fatigue which has a significant impact on their daily life, their physiological state and ability to work, causing significant associated costs and a breakdown of relationships. Currently there are few effective treatments to combat fatigue, therefore finding a biomarker may provide new treatment options.

Fatigue is often considered a non-specific loss of motivation due to illness, but evidence suggests that it may actually be a result of specific interactions between the immune system and the brain that encourages recovery through staying inactive. By identifying what mechanisms the brain uses to encourage the body to stay inactive, it may be possible to quantify the level of fatigue someone is experiencing

How will the findings benefit patients?

This research project will develop new methods of fatigue measurement which could improve diagnosis, monitoring and prevention of fatigue in patients with inflammatory arthritis, allowing for therapy to be tailored specifically to the patients needs. This would improve quality of life and reduce the burden of loss of earnings and the breakdown of relationships due to the effect of fatigue.