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Monday 25 October 2021


Chris Buckley

Prof. Chris Buckley - Arthritis Therapy Acceleration Programme (A-TAP)

Precision medicine is a term used to describe an approach to treatment that aims to find the right drug for the right patient with a well-established disease. It has revolutionized the way in which drugs are studied in clinical trials. However, it does not address a key problem: how to match a newly discovered drug, that has yet to receive approval to be prescribed by doctors, to the right type of disease; in regulatory terms, how to determine the “licenced indication” for a drug. Until now this has been done largely by guesswork.

To help identify the right drug at the right dose for the right type of inflammatory disease, and to ensure that people are not exposed to a drug that in hindsight could never work, we developed the Arthritis Therapy Acceleration Programme (A-TAP). A-TAP is the first UK based cross-disease group of researchers and their patients based in Oxford, Coventry, and Birmingham. It aims to determine whether a drug works based on how it affects the cells present in diseased tissue obtained via minimally invasive surgical techniques rather than just investigations from blood.

A-TAP uses ideas drawn from the Human Cell Atlas (an international consortium that aims to identify all the cell types that make up a human) to construct a map of the different cells involved in inflammatory diseases. We have begun to sketch out this map including the identification of key cell types and the cytokines, a type of protein, they produce in the gut, joint  and skin. This cross-disease comparative atlas will allow us to see whether there are features of inflammation that are shared between diseases and that therefore might be treated in a common way.

  Abigail McNiven

 Dr Abigail McNiven

I am the main researcher on a study funded by the Oliver Bird Fund, the Nuffield Foundation, about decision-making for knee replacement surgery by patients over the age of 70 with multiple long term health conditions.