£1.2m to research new treatments for Osteoarthritis

A team of academics from the University of Glasgow has been awarded a £1.2 million programme grant from Arthritis Research UK to bring together for the first time experts in bone, matrix, molecular and systems biology in a concerted effort to better understand osteoarthritis.


The team, which will also draw in others from a consortium including researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh (Dr Robert van’t Hof), Newcastle (Professor Drew Rowan), Strathclyde (Professor Robin Plevin) and West of Scotland (Professor John Lockhart) in the study of a new pathway previously discovered by the consortium that may drive disease in osteoarthritis.  This could present an entirely new avenue for drug development. 

Osteoarthritis is a painful and disabling condition which occurs when the cartilage ‘cushion’ between the bones of the joint gradually erodes, leading to rubbing of bone on bone. The most frequently affected joints are knees, hips, spine and hands. It is known that irreversible cartilage breakdown in osteoarthritis is driven by potent enzymes but little is known about the complex events that switch on this destruction.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis with an estimated 8.5 million people affected in the UK alone.  Compounded by age, obesity and joint injury, there are still no effective treatments.  Development of an effective treatment would have an enormous clinical impact internationally.

William Ferrell, Professor of Clinical Physiology in the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Glasgow and Principal Investigator said “We are delighted to have received this funding from Arthritis Research UK.  It will allow us to advance the cutting-edge research we have already undertaken into osteoarthritis and may ultimately lead to a significant breakthrough in this disease.”

Professor Iain McInnes, Director, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Glasgow said “There is a considerable focus now on understanding arthritis pathogenesis in the University of Glasgow – this new award will further strengthen these activities and in addition bring further value by building closer partnerships with other experts around the UK with whom we will now be able to work.”

Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK said: “Osteoarthritis is a major challenge, affecting a substantial proportion of the UK. We currently rely on pain killers and other treatments directed at modifying the symptoms, and lack any specific therapy that affects the underlying disease process that destroys the cartilage in the joint. This exciting programme of work offers the promise of a vital new route to tackling the underlying causes.”

Find out more

Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation

For further information, contact Cara MacDowall, Media Relations Officer on 0141 330 3683 or email cara.macdowall@glasgow.ac.uk

Arthritis Research UK

Arthritis Research UK is the leading authority on arthritis in the UK, conducting scientific and medical research into all types of arthritis and related musculoskeletal conditions. It is the UK’s fourth largest medical research charity and the only charity solely committed to funding high quality research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. For more information visit:www.arthritisresearchuk.org


First published: 7 March 2013

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