Flow cytometry profiling of circulating flare-related lymphocytes to predict and understand flare and drug-free remission in rheumatoid arthritis
Principal Investigator: Dr Ken Baker
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common disease affecting 1 in 100 UK adults, characterised by joint pain and swelling. With modern arthritis drugs, many patients can achieve good control of the disease, however, this carries the risk of drug side-effects and the need for ongoing monitoring. Furthermore, periods of disease remission are often punctuated by sudden unpredictable increases in arthritis activity (known as disease flares), which have significant impact on work and quality of life. Reliable markers to predict an individual’s future risk of flare would enable a personalised tailoring of arthritis drug treatment – however, such markers are currently lacking in clinical practice.
Previous research has identified markers that can identify the onset of arthritis flares. In this project, we aim to extend our previous findings to confirm the presence and expansion of flare-related cells in samples from a separate clinical trial of arthritis drug cessation (the BIO-FLARE study). We will also measure the production of inflammatory proteins by these flare-related cells, to better to understand their potential role in promoting inflammation. Our results will support future funding applications to develop a clinical test to measure flare-related cells for use in a future clinical trial of personalised arthritis drug cessation.