Birmingham researcher secures essential funding for osteoarthritis projects

Dr Simon Jones

Dr Simon Jones, a Senior Lecturer in Musculoskeletal Ageing Research, has secured funding from Arthritis Research UK for two three-year projects.

Dr Jones has received funding to understand the role of lncRNAs (novel gene regulating molecules) in mediating osteoarthritis joint pathology and joint pain. 

The first award of £228,688 was in response to Arthritis Research UK's 'Pain Challenge' call, where Dr Jones’s objective was to determine whether these lncRNAs are central mediators of inflammatory osteoarthritis joint pain. For this study, Dr Jones and his team recruited patients with either early or end-stage knee osteoarthritis. 

The second award of £205,160 was in in response to Arthritis Research UK's 'Cure Challenge' call, where Dr Jones’s objective was to investigate how obesity impacts on lncRNAs to promote greater joint inflammation in patients with osteoarthritis, and whether this is true in both weight-bearing joints (e.g knee or hip) and in non-weight bearing joints (e.g hand). For this study, Dr Jones and his team are recruiting patients who have osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, hand, toe, spine, elbow or ankle.

Dr Jones and his team have established that joint inflammation is particularly pronounced in osteoarthritis patients who are overweight or obese. This is important because this suggests that these particular osteoarthritis patients might respond well to existing anti-inflammatory medications. 

Ultimately, Dr Jones and his team hope to be able to identify new treatments that can reduce joint pain and slow disease progression or prevent OA occurring in at risk patient populations. Such treatments would transform the lives of patients living with OA and would reduce the requirement for joint replacement surgery.

Osteoarthritis is a painful and debilitating disease of the joint that affects around 25% of people over the age of 50. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, there are currently no medications that can slow or reverse osteoarthritis. One of the reasons for this is that historically osteoarthritis has been dismissed as simply a result of wear and tear to the joint.  

 

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