Rewarded for Their Cutting-Edge Work; Research into Arthritis Is Recognised

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae

SCIENTISTS in the North East have been officially recognised as world leaders in the field of arthritis research.

The Musculoskeletal Research Group in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University has been awarded the prestigious Centre of Excellence status by the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR).

It is only one of six centres in the UK to have such a stature and the accolade is being given to the university for its impressive contribution to research into the condition, including leading the way nationally in educational research and experimental therapies for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The award will be presented at a special ceremony at the university later today and John Isaacs, professor of clinical rheumatology at Newcastle University's Musculoskeletal Research Group, said he was delighted the team had been recognised in this way.

He added: "It is a great honour to be given this award and it acknowledges the high-quality work that has been done by the team over the last five years.

"A big thank you has to go to all the team who have worked so hard. We have been doing a lot of cutting-edge research that is developing new therapies."

The university's Musculoskeletal Research Group consists of clinicians and scientists who are working together to improve the diagnosis, management and understanding of arthritic diseases.

Their focus is a mix of basic science and clinical research projects aimed at addressing the problems of arthritis and age-related musculoskeletal diseases, alongside other specialist areas in paediatric rheumatology. The Medical Research Council this year awarded the team pounds 3.5m to research abnormalities within the immune system that could cause RA, in the hope of developing new treatments.

Last year, scientists at Newcastle University made a major breakthrough in treating RA when they developed a pioneering system that could "switch off" the disease.

Following encouraging results from a pilot study in a handful of patients, the researchers set up the first phase of a trial where sufferers were given the antibody therapy Otelixizumab, with the aim of eradicating symptoms. …