ARC, which had been founded originally as the Empire Rheumatism Council in 1936, changed its name to Arthritis Research UK in 2010 as part of a drive to raise the profile of Arthritis research and the organisation itself. It has also reduced the potential for confusion with a plethora of other charitable groups using the ‘arc’ initials.
The Arthritis Research UK research committee considers around 400 applications for funding per year. The medical research provides answers about the causes of arthritis, effective treatment, and ultimately the cure for all arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions.
Arthritis Research UK has been awarded for:
- Developing anti-TNF therapy for rheumatoid arthritis beyond existing treatments
- Identifying the genes linked to the disease in patients with osteoarthritis
- Developing longer-lasting and durable prostheses, and researching the causes, effects and treatments of infections in joint replacements
- Improving the treatment of brittle bone disease in children
- Developing tissue engineering techniques in osteoarthritis by using patients’ own cartilage
- Looking at ways of better targeting drug treatment in arthritis in children and teenagers
- Examining the role of therapies such as acupuncture and yoga, on osteoarthritis and back pain
Arthritis Research UK research articles from Innovation Toronto
- Body clock study unlocks prospect of treatment for osteoarthritis – December 21, 2015
- Arthritis cure is on the way: Scientists make new breakthrough using embryonic stem cells – March 7, 2015
- New ‘microcapsules’ have potential to repair damage caused by osteoarthritis
- New research claims rheumatoid arthritis breakthrough
A University of Manchester biologist has for the first time established that the painful and debilitating symptoms endured by osteoarthritis sufferers are intrinsically linked to the human body clock.
- Symptoms of osteoarthritis linked to human body clock
- Study could in years to come pave the way for drug treatment
- As we age, our cartilage cell body clocks deteriorate
The study, led by Dr Qing-Jun Meng, who is a Senior Research Fellow for Arthritis Research UK, could in the years to come, pave the way for drug treatment of the joint condition that affects 8 million people in the UK.
His research findings, jointly funded by Arthritis Research UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC), are published today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
He said: “Despite the best efforts of doctors and scientists, we have a poor understanding of osteoarthritis: sadly, pain relief and joint replacement surgery seem to be the only option for patients.
“So the prospect of fundamental treatment is very exciting- even though it’s still probably years away.”
Dr Meng discovered that body clocks within cartilage cells – or chondrocytes- control thousands of genes which segregate different biological activities at different times of the day.
The body clock, he realised, controls the equilibrium between when chondrocyte cells are repaired during rest and when they are worn down through activity.
But his research revealed that as we age, our cartilage cell body clocks deteriorate, making the repair function insufficient, which could contribute to osteoarthritis.
Despite the best efforts of doctors and scientists, we have a poor understanding of osteoarthritis: sadly, pain relief and joint replacement surgery seem to be the only option for patients. So the prospect of fundamental treatment is very exciting- even though it’s still probably years away.
Dr Qing-Jun Meng
Dr Meng’s team examined three types of human cartilage under the microscope : normal, mildly affected by osteoarthritis and severely affected.
As the osteoarthritis became more severe, the number of cells that express BMAL1 – a protein which controls the body clock – became less and less.
And in terms of aging, he found similar reduction of BMAL1 in chondrocytes, which coincided with the reduced ‘amplitude’ of the body clock (up to 40% weaker in older mice), supporting the theory that aging, at least partially through dysregulation of the chondrocyte clocks, is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis.
Chronic inflammation is another factor which can increase the risk of contracting the disease, according to Dr Meng.
And in an American study on mice he participated in earlier in the year, weekly reversal of the light dark cycle, a condition that simulated rotating shift work or severe jet lag, could also disrupt the body clock- making the disease more of a risk.
He added: “Now we have identified a link between the human body clock and osteoarthritis, this could unlock the prospect of drugs which reset the body clock mechanism.
“Scientists are already developing drugs which can act in this way for other conditions. Now, osteoarthritis can be part of this effort.
“But there are other body clock related approaches which can help osteoarthritis sufferers: eating and exercising at set regular times each day is also something we think is a good idea.
“Using heat pads that approximate body temperature changes in cartilage tissue – which are too governed by the body clock- are also potentially useful.”
Professor Ray Boot-Handford, who is also a senior author of this study, commented: “This study, delivered by an international team led by Dr Meng, demonstrates the important role the body clock plays in keeping our joints healthy. The findings open up new avenues for understanding and developing treatments for osteoarthritis.”
Stephen Simpson, director of research and programmes at Arthritis Research UK said: “Many people with arthritis find that their symptoms get worse at certain times of the day and the results of this interesting and exciting study reveal a likely biological basis to this effect.
ARTHRITIS sufferers could be offered cartilage replacements within five years after a breakthrough by British scientists.
Treatment for the crippling condition is currently limited to basic pain relief or complex joint replacement surgery.
But trials using stem cells have shown “astonishing” results with tissue almost as good as new after just three months.
Professor Sue Kimber, who led the research, said: “This work represents an important step forward in treating cartilage damage using embryonic stem cells to form new tissue.
“It may offer a new line of therapy for people with crippling joint pain and we now need this process to be developed for patients.”
Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage at the ends of bones wears away causing severe pain and stiffness.
Researchers say the latest experiments show the procedure could potentially be a “safe and effective treatment” for more than eight million people who suffer from joint damage and inflammation.
In the experiments, led by teams at Manchester University and Arthritis Research UK, discarded embryonic stem cells from IVF clinics were transformed into cartilage cells.
These were transplanted into rats with defective joints.
Tests showed the high-quality artificially grown tissue quickly aided the repair of the joint.
The experiments have excited researchers because they were able to generate new healthy-looking cartilage without signs of damaging side effects.
Although cartilage cells created from adult stem cells are being used experimentally they cannot be produced in large amounts because the procedure is prohibitively expensive.
But embryonic stem cells’ capacity to multiply quickly offers the possibility of high-volume cartilage production.