New research centre for arthritis officially opened

Issued: Mon, 09 Jun 2014 12:54:00 BST

A major new research centre for arthritis has been officially opened by Olympic gold-winning rower Katherine Grainger.

The £2.5m Arthritis Research UK Rheumatoid Arthritis Pathogenisis Centre of Excellence (RACE) is a collaboration between the Universities of Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham. The three participating centres are committing an additional £4m in financial support over the next five years.

The centre aims to find out more about the causes of rheumatoid arthritis, a serious, inflammatory, auto-immune condition that affects the joints leading to chronic pain. Disability in the long-term can lead to osteoporosis, heart disease and early death.

The launch saw an audience of arthritis patients invited to afternoon tea hosted by sports journalist Alison Walker to hear more about the research being carried out into the condition and how the new centre will lead to better treatments. They were also entertained by the High School of Glasgow Chamber Choir.

Professor Iain MacInnes, Director of the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Glasgow, will lead the new centre.

He said: “This new centre aims to address the unmet needs of more than 400,000 people in the UK who suffer from the crippling condition of rheumatoid arthritis. It will help us learn more about the mechanisms behind this disease and how we can use this knowledge to develop more effective treatments, and maybe even one day a cure.

“Moreover, our work will enable us to take a much more personalised approach to rheumatoid arthritis treatment, so that patients can benefit from treatments that are most likely to offer them benefit and least likely to do harm.

“While much of the research will be laboratory-based basic science, the ultimate aim of the Centre will be to develop new therapies that will provide patients with specific treatment that will work best for them early in the course of their disease, without the need to try an array of different drugs. In the long term we seek to switch the disease off completely.”

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks itself. Although drug treatments have considerably improved in the past 20 years, they are not effective in all patients.

‌Researchers at the new centre will investigate the underlying causes of rheumatoid arthritis. They will focus on the mechanisms of auto-immunity that cause rheumatoid arthritis to start, and try to work out why it doesn’t stop. This results in chronic inflammation in the joints which cannot be suppressed in at least a third of patients, despite treatment with modern biological therapies.

The Centre will be driven by collaborative partnerships by bringing together three world-class institutes with a track record of joint working, with each University bringing expertise in different fields and access to large groups of patients.

Professor Alan Silman, medical director of medical research charity Arthritis Research UK said: “Although the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis has improved enormously in the past 20 years with the advent of new cutting new drug therapies, our goal now is to be able to personalise and target treatment to individuals.

“As a charity that relies on the support of the public to fund research, bringing together world-recognised research groups in three universities in this unique way, with a multi-pronged attack on this potentially devastating disease, is very much aimed at making a difference to the lives of people with arthritis. We are very excited that this new centre can bring us closer to finding a cure.”

 


Media enquiries: stuart.forsyth@glasgow.ac.uk / 0141 330 4831

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