Switching off the pro-inflammatory state of immune cells

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Dr Simon Arthur

Organisation - University of Dundee

Type of grant - Project Grant

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £261,067.68

Start date - 1 April 2017

Reference - 21425

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

This research aims to understand the role of proteins in switching immune cells from a pro-inflammatory state to an anti-inflammatory state in rheumatoid arthritis and how this effects disease progression.

Why is this research important?

Macrophages are a type of immune cell which attack the joints by causing inflammation in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. In this instance they are pro-inflammatory. However macrophages can also be anti-inflammatory by releasing molecules which combat inflammation. It is not known why this switch in macrophage action occurs.

Recent research by this group has found that proteins called salt-inducible kinases control this switch in macrophages and switch on the pro-inflammatory state. By fully or partially blocking the activity of salt-inducible kinases, it may be possible to promote the anti-inflammatory actions of macrophages. If this state can be triggered during arthritis it may help to prevent progression of the disease.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Understanding the role of salt-inducible kinases may provide a new target for drugs not just in rheumatoid arthritis but in all inflammatory conditions. Drugs that block the action of salt-inducible kinases have already been approved for use in cancer treatment. If blocking the action of these proteins reduces inflammation and is effective at treating inflammatory arthritis, drugs in this area are already available and may therefore be well tolerated by patients.