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We aim to develop new treatments for musculoskeletal conditions, through innovative laboratory work and clinical trials.

Our programme of translational work has a dual aim:

  1. To test novel therapeutic approaches in early phase development in musculoskeletal disease in areas of unmet clinical need and to design experimental medicine studies that will permit investigation of the mechanism of action and provide understanding of the biological role of the drug target in vivo;
  2. In parallel, to test the sensitivity of novel measures of outcome linked to the pathobiology of the disease that might provide an early, reliable and sensitive indication that will inform a rational decision as to whether to progress a potential pharmacotherapeutic to later phase clinical studies for which the primary endpoint is designed to meet the regulatory criteria necessary to gain a drug license for clinical use.
This approach is predicted to greatly enrich for likely success in phase 3 studies and thus to considerably cut research and development costs.
- Professor Peter Taylor

Our group has already conducted the first ever studies to test potential therapeutic agents for rheumatoid arthritis in a double-blind, parallel group, placebo and active comparator controlled study in which the primary endpoints were two dimensional ultrasonographic measures of inflammation1,2.

Ultrasonographic technology has advanced at a pace since Professor Taylor originally designed these studies and we now have the capability to measure synovial thickening and vascularity in more detail in two dimensions as well as investigating 3 and 4 dimensional imaging. Subsequently completed work has identified the most robust endpoints1,2 and their utility has been further investigated in a single centre phase II randomized, controlled trial1.

Illustration of ultrasonographic scanning in the longitudinal and transverse plane   using a splint to standardize image acquisition (Seymour et al. Arthritis Research & Therapy 2012 14:R198.)

Illustration of ultrasonographic scanning in the longitudinal and transverse plane using a splint to standardize image acquisition (Seymour et al. Arthritis Research & Therapy 2012 14:R198.)


Further studies have been designed to investigate the performance of these measures across multiple sites using standard operating procedures in the context of multicentre, international, head to head trials of two biologic therapies with different mechanisms of action, currently on-going.

Professor Taylor's group is also testing similar issues using quantitative assessment of synovial inflammation by means of dynamic enhanced MRI in inflammatory arthritis. These include on-going studies designed to investigate the performance of novel imaging endpoints in the context of multi-centre trials of new highly targeted "small molecule" oral therapeutics.

Related research themes