Development of a diagnostic and therapeutic response biomarker for patients with rheumatoid arthritis
The aim of this project is to develop and optimise a clinically feasible assay to detect a 3-gene biomarker and then test whether this biomarker has diagnostic, as well as theragnostic potential, for RA.
RA is a heterogeneous disease of immune dysregulation characterised by joint inflammation and destruction, which can, if not effectively treated, lead to disability and increased mortality. Our research question is two-fold: i) can a tractable assay be developed to measure this 3-gene signature, and ii) does this have clinical utility as a biomarker with diagnostic value (in identifying early RA patients) and/or theragnostic value for predicting the efficacy of IL-6 signalling pathway blockade amongst RA patients?
1. To optimise a PrimeFlow RNA assay to detect BCL3, PIM1 and SOCS3 in peripheral blood immune cell subsets
2. To test the validity of this assay to diagnose patients with early RA
3. To test the validity of this assay as a potential theragnostic biomarker on RA patients receiving methotrexate, anti-IL-6, or anti-TNF-α therapy
This research is important now because biomarkers have the potential to transform the management of RA, improving patient care, quality of life and longevity. In addition, IL-6 is an important driver of ageing so the development of a tractable assay to measure an IL-6-mediated gene signature has the potential to become a ‘platform’ technology for other age-related diseases.