A centre dedicated to research into rheumatoid arthritis was officially opened in early June. The Arthritis UK Rheumatoid Arthritis Pathogenesis Centre of Excellence (RACE) is located in Glasgow and is a joint venture between Glasgow University, Newcastle University and Birmingham University.
£2.5 million has already been spent on developing the centre, and further funding from the universities over the next five years will amount to an additional £4 million. The objectives of the centre are to investigate the causes of rheumatoid arthritis and to identify the best ways to treat it, and potentially find a cure or better still a means of prevention.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition which affects the auto immune system, resulting in inflammation of the joints. It can also cause damage to the body's organs, and it can lead to chronic fatigue. The opening of the new research centre has been welcomed by rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, who number over 400,000 in the UK.
There are many types of medication currently available for rheumatoid arthritis, but they are more general treatments. The research centre aims to learn more about and understand the condition better so that more targeted treatments can be developed, as has started to be the case for conditions such as different types of cancer.
The three universities have experience of working in partnership and will offer different and complementary skills and expertise to the centre. They are each known internationally for the work they are doing in the field of rheumatology.
The team from Birmingham University, led by Professor Chris Buckley, is working to understand fibroplasts, which are the cells responsible for developing inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. At Newcastle University, Professor John Isaacs runs a team which is concentrating on the part the overall immune system plays in the condition.
Professor Iain MacInnes leads the team at the University of Glasgow, where they focus on the specific characteristics of immune cells and how they move in the blood and joints. It is Professor MacInnes who will head up the team as Director at the new centre in Glasgow.
The charity Arthritis UK has a network of Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centres, and all three of the universities are already part of this.
Arthritis Research UK was founded in 1936, under the name of Empire Rheumatism Council. It later changed its name to Arthritis Research Campaign, and in 2010 it officially became known as Arthritis Research UK. One of its key goals is to support the development of treatments for arthritis. Acorn Stairlifts have earned an Ease of Use commendation from the Arthritis Foundation - another important arthritis fighting charity.