MPs and MSPs visited the Arthritis Research UK Rheumatoid Arthritis Pathogenisis Centre of Excellence to understand more about the impact of arthritis.
The Arthritis Research UK rheumatoid Arrthritis Pathogenisis Centre of Excellence (RACE) is a collaboration between the Universities of Newcastle, Glasgow and Birmingham, and is ran from the University of Glasgow.
Professor John Isaacs, lead for the Musculoskeletal theme within the NHR Newcastle BRC, and part of the NIHR Joint and Related Inflammatory Disease Translational Research Collaboration, is the Newcastle University lead contact for the RACE initiative.
At the visit, Alison Thewliss MP, Bill Kidd MSP, Sandra White MSP and Carol Monaghan MP learned about the impact of arthritis and the current investment in arthritis research.
The centre, which is funded by charity Arthritis Research UK, investigates the causes of and potential treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, a painful autoimmune disease which affects over 400,000 people in the UK.
The impact of arthritis
The impact of rheumatoid arthritis and other types arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, on society and the economy is considerable. Together, these conditions are the largest single cause of workplace absence in the UK, resulting in 30.8 million working days lost each year.
John Isaacs is a Professor of Clinical Rheumatology at Newcastle University and Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist with the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Along with colleagues, Professor Isaacs dedicates his research to identifying the underlying causes of arthritis, with the aim of discovering potential therapies or cures as part of the Musculoskeletal Disease theme with the NIHR Newcastle BRC.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation in the joints, leading to chronic pain and fatigue. Although drug treatments have improved considerably over the years, many people with the condition still have difficulty doing things most of us take for granted, like getting to work, climbing the stairs or getting dressed independently.
As part of the consortium of academic partners which makes up RACE, Newcastle University works alongside the Universities of Glasgow and Birmingham to investigate clinical advances for people with rheumatoid arthritis. For example, Newcastle University will soon continue with the AuToDeCRA project which seeks to develop new ways of treating rheumatoid arthritis. While traditionally tablets may be prescribed, this project pioneers the use of cellular therapy. Having been in the early research stage, it is now ready to take forward and potentially go on to major trials.
Story adapted from a press release provided by Arthritis Research UK