Developing new antibody-based treatments for rheumatoid arthritis

Disease - Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Kim Midwood

Organisation - University of Oxford

Type of grant - PhD Scholarship 2019

Status of grant - Active from 1 October 2020

Amount of the original award - £159,156.34

Start date - 1 October 2020

Reference - 22497

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research? 

This research aims to develop a new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis based on antibodies that block the pro-inflammatory activity of a protein called tenascin-C. In people with rheumatoid arthritis, tenascin-C can accumulate in joints, causing persistent inflammation. Previous research has shown that antibodies can block the activity of tenascin-C in mice and reduce inflammation. To understand if this also works in humans, this research project will compare tissue samples from people at different stages of rheumatoid arthritis. Experiments will test how cells from these patients respond to tenascin-C, in order to better understand how it causes inflammation.

Why is this research important? 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in joints, affecting around 400,000 adults aged 16 and over in the UK. Currently available treatments can be very effective in controlling inflammation however treatments do not work for all patients. This research hopes to develop a treatment using antibodies that target an inflammatory protein specifically involved in rheumatoid arthritis inflammation.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Understanding the biological mechanisms of how these antibodies can prevent chronic inflammation and tissue damage in humans may help to development of new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers hope to understand how people with rheumatoid arthritis might benefit from the treatment, identify which stage of treatment this therapy is likely to be most effective, and develop ways to measure if the treatment is working. This could support move to clinical trials in the future, which if successful could provide a new treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis patients who do not currently respond well to other treatments.