With around 10 million people from all ages living with arthritis in the UK, and no known cure for it (except for gout), research aimed at understanding the causes, preventions and development of new treatments for arthritis is essential.
The three projects now funded at the Kennedy will further the knowledge base on arthritis, as well as investigate potential new therapies for specific forms of the condition, namely osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to identify therapeutic targets of microRNAs
MicroRNAs are small molecules key to gene expression – when information from a gene is used to make gene products, which go on to perform essential functions in the body. Problems with the regulation of microRNAs have been implicated in many diseases including arthritis. Current approaches to treatment look to modify the level of a specific microRNA; however, this is too high risk for clinical application as a single microRNA has multiple targets, some of which may be undesirable or harmful to alter. To overcome this obstacle, the new project now funded at the Kennedy will use the latest genome editing technology to alter individual microRNA target sites and determine their functional significance in human cells. In this way we will identify specific and relevant single sites for therapeutic targeting.
Lead researcher: Dr Chris Murphy.
Sulfation patterns of pericellular heparan sulfate regulate chondrocyte homeostasis: novel targets for OA therapy?
A successful cure for osteoarthritis can only be developed when we understand the detailed molecular changes that occur in the joints as the disease develops. We recently identified that a key cellular mechanism important for cartilage health is disrupted in osteoarthritis. We would like to use recently developed technologies to understand why this occurs, in order to be able to develop new drugs to treat or prevent this common and disabling joint disease.
Lead researcher: Dr Linda Troeberg.
IFN-lambda: novel biologics for controlling neutrophil-mediated pathology in rheumatic diseases?
Signaling molecules are responsible for transmitting information between cells in your body. Previous work by Professor Udalova’s group has recently discovered that a new signaling molecule - called interferon-lambda - better known for its role in the body’s response to viruses, can also stop and reverse the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The research group believes this works by blocking the recruitment of white blood cells to the arthritic joint, where they usually increase the inflammation. The project now funded will investigate the roles of other cells and molecules in this process and ultimately translate our findings to clinical practice, using white blood cells from healthy donors and rheumatic patients (early RA and vasculitis.
Lead researcher: Professor Irina Udalova.