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New arthritis research centre unveiled

11 June 2012

Wales’ first research centre dedicated to developing new drugs and treatments to ease the pain and suffering of arthritis sufferers has been unveiled.

The Arthritis Research UK Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre (CREATE), based in the University’s School of Medicine, will work alongside volunteer patients from Cardiff and the Vale University Health Board, to test drugs used in other conditions to help treat around 50 South Wales patients with rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis.

With start-up funding of £115,000 from medical research charity Arthritis Research UK over the next three years and additional funding from National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR) and Cardiff University, the centre will also seek to develop new laboratory tests that will determine the most appropriate therapy for individual patients.

Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are chronic inflammatory joint conditions that result in pain, disability, joint damage and reduced quality of life.

Management of these conditions has improved significantly with the advent of a new class of biologic drugs called anti-TNF therapy, which were pioneered and developed by Arthritis Research UK scientists.

Achieving and sustaining remission remains the goal of many researchers, and has been shown to be important in arresting joint damage. However, the percentage of patients who attain remission in clinical practice is estimated to be less than 30 per cent.

"We aim to improve the outcome of rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis by developing and testing novel treatments, especially those that have the potential to stop these diseases in their tracks; resulting in higher rates of disease remission," explained principle investigator, School of Medicine’s Professor of Rheumatology, Ernest Choy.

Professor Choy and his team’s first project will be to test a drug that is being developed for inflammatory bowel disease on patients who have failed on anti-TNF therapies.

Medical director of Arthritis Research UK Professor Alan Silman said: "There’s a real need to do in-depth testing of the benefits and safety of new drugs in small numbers of patients before large scale trials can begin, and our new experimental arthritis treatment centres will provide the resources to study patients in these key first stage studies."

Related links:

School of Medicine

Arthritis Research UK

Cardiff and the Vale University Health

Board National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR)