Learning more about 'giant cell arteritis': a trainee's story
Daniel Maunder studied for his PhD with the NIHR Newcastle BRC. He worked alongside Skin and Oral Disease theme lead, Professor Muzlifah Haniffa. In her Haniffa Lab, Dan carried out research into ‘giant cell arteritis’. He tells us about his research, how he hopes it will benefit patients, and what he plans to do next.
Can you give us a summary of your research?
As part of the Skin and Oral Disease theme, I investigated the functional adaptations of cells called ‘Langhans-type multinucleated giant cells’. The aim was to get a better understanding of the role they play in giant cell arteritis. This is an age-related condition that they are found in. I also gained insight into how these cells form. This is by a combination of cell fusion and incomplete cell division. I discovered an increased capacity for the production of harmful reactive oxygen species. This hints at a pathological role for these cells in disease. Additionally, by demonstrating the involvement of DNA damage signalling in their formation, I may have opened avenues to target their formation therapeutically. Yet this will require further experimentation.
What impact will this have on healthcare?
Ultimately, I hope my research can provide a platform for the development of new diagnostic tools or treatments for giant cell arteritis. I also hope it can develop knowledge on other pathologies where Langhans-type multinucleated giant cells form. A lot more work is needed before we get there though!
Did your study involve patient/public volunteers? How important was their contribution?
My research didn’t need clinical patient input, but through the NIHR Newcastle BRC I was able to spend some time with public volunteers to discuss my research. These volunteers provided feedback on lay summaries, which I found very helpful.
What have you gained from being an NIHR funded trainee?
I have been a member of the Haniffa Lab at Newcastle University and part of the Newcastle BRC trainees. Through both my practical lab-work and BRC training events, I have gained the research skills I needed to start a career in biomedical science.
What are your next steps, or what would you like to do in the future?
In the short-term I hope to remain in biomedical science research. Ideally I will develop skills and contacts in the world of public involvement and engagement, as I would like to work in this field in the future.