Using magnetic stimulation to understand how specific areas of the brain contribute to pain experienced in rheumatoid arthritis.

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Dr Neil Basu

Organisation - University of Glasgow  

Type of grant - Full Application Disease 

Status of grant - Active from 1 November 2020

Amount of the original award - £206,507.00

Start date - 01 August 2020 

Reference - 22453

Public Summary  

What are the aims of this research? 

This research project will assess the feasibility of using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), as a safe, non-invasive technique to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. The study will use TMS to tar-get a specific region of the brain (known as the left inferior parietal lobule) which is thought to play a role in processing inflammation and pain. Researchers wish to evaluate this technique as part of a wider long-term study, to investigate how this region of the brain influences pain in rheumatoid arthritis.

Why is this research important?    

Many patients that respond to joint-specific treatments continue to experience significant levels of pain, leading researchers to believe that rheumatoid arthritis pain is caused by alternative sources in addition to the joints, like parts of the brain. Brain scanning methods have identified the left in-ferior parietal lobule as an important link between inflammation and pain, but previous studies have only provided a single snapshot of volunteers' brains. In this project, researchers hope to better examine this role of this region of the brain using the TMS technique, by targeting the left inferior parietal lobule and assessing the volunteers for changes in aspects of brain biolo-gy useing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

How will the findings benefit patients?

This study seeks to identify causes of persistent pain in rheumatoid arthritis with a view to devel-oping novel interventions and pain-relieving strategies in the future. It will provide information on how the brain influences pain in rheumatoid arthritis and may further our understanding of pain in other inflammatory conditions.