Understanding what causes changes to cells in inflamed joints

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Dr Miguel Pineda

Organisation - University of Glasgow

Type of grant - Career Development Fellowship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £413,040

Start date - 1 February 2016

Reference - 21221

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

This research aims to identify why fibroblasts, structural cells of healthy joints, change their normal peaceful behaviour into an aggressive behaviour in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. This change causes them to deliver confusing signals which make inflammatory cells stay in the joints instead of fighting infections elsewhere. This leads to joint inflammation and sustained pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Why is this research important?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that leads to pain and inflammation, impacting on the quality of life of thousands of people. Although treatments have improved dramatically over the last two decades, these come with a risk of side effects and around 30% of patients do not respond to current treatments. There is therefore a need for new alternatives.

Understanding what causes fibroblasts to deliver the wrong signals leading to joint disease could provide the knowledge needed to develop new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis without the side effects associated with current available drugs.

How will the findings benefit patients?

New treatments could be developed that specifically target these badly behaved fibroblasts, rather than inflammatory cells in general which are the target of current therapies. This could help to reduce the dose of the drug needed, and minimise the risk of side effects, improving the lives of people with rheumatoid arthritis.