08:41pm Monday 13 July 2020

Relatives of patients hold key to better understanding of rheumatoid arthritis

The study, the first of its kind in the UK, will provide vital clues to the early events in the process that leads to someone developing RA and help with prevention measures.

Researchers from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Manchester Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit, a partnership between Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester, will collect data from patients’ family members some of whom will be at increased risk of developing the condition themselves.

They aim to create a national database to examine and compare the lifestyle and genetic information in those people who go on to develop RA against those who remain free of the condition.  The study is part of a £4.5m Medical Research Council and Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry funded stratified medicine consortium in RA.

RA is a chronic disease which affects around 0.8% of the population.  It is a significant health burden for patients, who experience pain and reduced mobility, and costs the NHS an estimated £560 million per year.

Public involvement is key to the success of the study, which by recruiting 3000 first-line relatives of patients (i.e. parent, sibling or child), aims to help researchers better understand the causes of the disease.  The study is looking to recruit relatives, who are over the age of 30 years and who are not currently diagnosed with RA. Participants will be asked to answer a questionnaire about their family history and lifestyle, and to provide a blood sample.

This information will help to provide answers to some of the questions that researchers have around how we can move towards a preventative approach for people who are deemed as being at high risk, with a view to reducing the risk of those people being affected and requiring treatment. 

Patients with RA have also been involved in the design of the study. Mrs Susan Moore, patient and Chair of the Arthritis Research UK Research User Group (RUG) explains that: “When I was first diagnosed with RA, as well as having questions about how it would impact my life, I wanted to know whether my daughters would be affected.  The answer to the question about why some family members develop the disease and others don’t is currently unknown. My hope is that this study will contribute towards susceptible people being protected from RA, so that they don’t suffer the pain and lifestyle limitations that I do.  Being part of the RUG group has enabled me to better understand my condition and help shape the structure of the study, to make it practical for patients.”  

The study, launched during National Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week (24–28 June), is being led by Professor Ian Bruce, NIHR Senior Investigator and Professor of Rheumatology at The University of Manchester and consultant at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.  It builds on the team’s previous discoveries, at the Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit and the NIHR Manchester Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit, which link genetic and lifestyle factors to the onset of RA.

Professor Ian Bruce commented, “The information that this study provides will enable scientists to examine and compare the lifestyle and genetic information in those people who are diagnosed with RA themselves, against those who are not affected by the disease.  This will give us vital clues to the early events in the process that ends in someone developing RA and, importantly, how we may prevent this.”

People wishing to participate in the study should contact the research office at: https://www.aruk.manchester.ac.uk/tacera_preventra/ or on 0161 275 5504.

Notes for editors

 

Image available on request.

For further information, please contact:
Emma Smith, Marketing Manager – Research and Innovation Division, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
0161 701 2679 / 0782 514 2219
[email protected]

Lucy Prosser, Communications Officer – Research and Innovation Division, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
0161 701 0260 / 0782 514 2219
[email protected]

Alison Barbuti, Media Relations Officer – Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, The University of Manchester
0161 275 8383 / 07887 561 318
[email protected]

The National Institute of Health Research Manchester Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit is a partnership between Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester.

The NIHR Manchester Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit was created by the National Institute for Health Research in 2012 to move scientific breakthroughs in the laboratory, through clinical assessment into improved outcomes for adults and children with musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis. As a partnership between Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester, the Biomedical Research Unit is designated as a specialist centre of excellence in musculoskeletal diseases. (www.manchestermskbru.org)

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (www.nihr.ac.uk).

Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is a leading provider of specialist healthcare services in Manchester, treating more than a million patients every year. Its eight specialist hospitals (Manchester Royal Infirmary, Saint Mary’s Hospital, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, University Dental Hospital of Manchester and Trafford Hospitals) are home to hundreds of world class clinicians and academic staff committed to finding patients the best care and treatments. (www.cmft.nhs.uk)

The University of Manchester, a member of the Russell Group, is one of the largest and most popular universities in the UK. It has 20 academic schools and hundreds of specialist research groups undertaking pioneering multi-disciplinary teaching and research of worldwide significance. According to the results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, The University of Manchester is one of the country’s major research institutions, rated third in the UK in terms of ‘research power’. The University had an annual income of £809 million in 2010/11. (www.manchester.ac.uk)

The Medical Research Council has committed £60 million to the Stratified Medicine Initiative over the Current Spending Review period and is coordinating action in this area with the Technology Strategy Board, the National Institute of Health Research and the UK Health Departments, Cancer Research UK and Arthritis Research UK.

Stratified medicine is based on identifying subgroups of patients with a particular disease who experience differences in their symptoms, the underlying disease mechanism, or the way they respond to treatment. This allows targeting of treatments to specific groups to ensure the right patient gets the right treatment at the right time.
Over the past century, the Medical Research Council has been at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Twenty-nine MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed.

Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. www.mrc.ac.uk
The MRC Centenary Timeline chronicles 100 years of life-changing discoveries and shows how our research has had a lasting influence on healthcare and wellbeing in the UK and globally, right up to the present day. www.centenary.mrc.ac.uk


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