Arthritis Research

David Fisher – Arthritis Research UK presentation

David started his presentation with three facts :

  • There are 200 different type of arthritis.
  • 15,000 is the number of children in the UK with arthritis which can affect anyone at any age.
  • 10 million people in the UK are living with arthritis, this is 1 in 6 of the population.

Arthritis affects the muscle, bones and joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common form causing pain from wear and tear of the joints and having a fall, the longer we are living more people are getting osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is the inflammation of the joints and spine. Arthritis Research UK is the biggest funder of research into the cause treatment and cure of all forms of arthritis in the UK. Their aim and mission is to take away the pain and help people remain active. They have an ambitious vision - a future free from arthritis and hopefully they will get there one day.

Founded in 1936 everything they do is underpinned and is based on evidence and research. The funding of research has helped to the change the treatment and related conditions beyond recognition and contributed to pioneering blood treatment and joint replacements which have transformed peoples lives. They have also in recent years put more emphasis on self management and staying active.

Arthritis Research UK have pioneered an anti TNF therapy which is the biggest research undertaken in recent years and revolutionised treatment however not everyone can have this treatment. They are continually looking at new treatments as 10m adults are consulting their GPs every year with some form of arthritis related illness.

There are also 2,500 who suffer from juvenile arthritis which affects their growth. 1.4m adults also suffer from gout which is a form of arthritis. One third of people over 50 go to their GP suffering a from of arthritis pain and 6m people have chronic back pain which costs the economy 10m lost working days. Arthritis is the most common condition which people claim Disability Living Allowance which amounts to £6 billion per annum.

In 2012 they invested £30m in universities and medical schools for research to support pioneering research and over the next five years want to spend another £30m on their centres of excellence flagship projects on top of other research. They also spend £1 million over a year on giving information to the medical professionals and the general public.

There are a number of centres of excellence and key projects they fund. Since the 1980’s they receive 10m per annual in royalties back from the patent on TNF work that Arthritis Research, unfortunately that patent runs out in a few years time and are now trying to fill that gap.
At Newcastle, York and Keele University they are working on stem cells to regenerate tissues around knee joints, cartilage and bone. Over the last two years they have funded 100 projects some only costing a few hundred pounds to others of over a £1m. In November 2012 they set up the first centre for adolescent rheumatology and are working with Great Ormond Street hospital as to why and how arthritis affects young people. Clinical trials have forgotten the teenagers and the treatment given is based on research on adults or children and not the teenagers themselves. There is also a lack of teenage specialist and some teenagers are therefore treated by adult or children’s specialist. By focusing on why and how it is different in adolescents they hope to understand and dramatically improve treatment and care for young people.

Last year in Nottingham and six other universities they launched better screening and tools to predict why individuals are at risk of getting arthritis from sports injuries in the hope of the keeping them free of osteoarthritis. Regular exercise is important and they are helping people with sports injuries keep active and pain free. They are also working with premier league football players taking x-rays to find out what their bones look like especially after treatment.

Leeds and Oxford hospitals are also working together testing new treatment on osteoarthritis to develop earlier treatment and intervention as more and more surgery over the years is being carried out on younger people. Funding has also been given to a clinical trial at Chapel Allerton in Leeds which is looking at aggressive treatment and by offering earlier treatment the joint damage can be reduced and evidence so far has proved affective. The amount that Arthritis Research UK is currently funding in the Leeds area is £4.6m.

Research papers and analysis that are published in the UK are used worldwide and vice versa. Research from Manchester has helped discover 47 new genetic markers associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Due to knowledge and research gained worldwide a study published in December has found some similarities between rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers affecting the blood, this means they may be able to use existing drugs to help rheumatoid arthritis.
We were also shown a moving video of three young people who told their stories and how the treatment they had received had given them a better quality of life.

How can we help we could organise an event as a group or have Arthritis Research as our charity of the year. We could also participate in the great British garden party as well as telling other people about the work they are doing.