Friday 20 December 2013


Congratulations to Katherine "Katie" Crossland on steering her way successfully through her PhD viva.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Prof Ian Pavord Christmas Lecture, Freeman Hospital, 18th December 2013

Respiratory Academic Meeting Christmas Lecture will be given tomorrow, Wednesday 18 December at 9.10am, by Ian Pavord, the new Professor of Respiratory Medicine at Oxford.

Ian is an international authority on eosinophilic inflammation, especially as it applies to asthma. While some of the content will be clinical, there will undoubtedly be data of significant relevance to anyone interested in inflammation.

The talk is at the lecture theatre in the Institute of Transplantation at Freeman Hospital, and will be preceded at 8.45 by a short talk from Carlos Echevarria, a local clinical research fellow and PhD student.

INE Talk, Functional Genomics and PTP, Andy Cope, KCL

"Functional genomic studies of protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP)N22/lyp in mouse and man".

Andy Cope (Arthritis Research UK Chair of Rheumatology at King's College London)

INE speaker on the 8th of January,
2 pm at the Beehive, room 2.21.

Thursday 12 December 2013

More Publications from MRG this Month

Predictors of access to care in juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus: evidence from the UK JSLE Cohort Study
Eve M. D. Smith; Helen E. Foster; William K. Gray; David Taylor-Robinson; Michael W. Beresford;
Rheumatology 2013; doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ket402


pGALS – paediatric Gait Arms Legs and Spine: a simple examination of the musculoskeletal system

Foster, H.E.  and Jandial, S.

Pediatric Rheumatology 2013, 11:44


Improving the peer review process in orthopaedic journals

Sprowson, A.P., Rankin, K.S., McNamara, I., Costa, M.L. and Rangan, A.

Bone Joint Res 2013; 2:245-247


No evidence of an association between mitochondrial DNA variants and osteoarthritis in 7393 cases and 5122 controls.

Hudson, G., Panoutsopoulou, K., Wilson, I., Southam, L., Rayner, N.W., Arden, N., Birrell, F., Carluke, I., Carr, A., Chapman, K., Deloukas, P., Doherty, M., McCaskie, A., Ollier, W.E.R., Ralston, S.H., Reed, M.R., Spector, T.D., Valdes, A.M., Wallis, G.A., Wilkinson, J.M., Zeggini, E., Samuels, D.C., Loughlin, J., Chinnery, P.F., arcOGEN Consortium

Ann Rheum Dis,2013; 72:136-139/ doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-201932


A computer simulation approach for assessing therapeutic intervention points to prevent cytokine-induced cartilage breakdown.

CJ Proctor, C Macdonald, JM Milner, AD Rowan, TE Cawston (doi 10.1002/art.38297)  Arthritis &  Rheumatism


Another Paper Accepted

Lendrem, D. W., & Lendrem, B. C. (2013).

The Development Speed Paradox: can increasing development speed reduce R&D productivity? Drug Discov Today. doi: 10.1016/j.drudis.2013.09.002


Congratulations: Madhushika Ratnayake

And congratulations to Madhushika “Madhu” Ratnayake on her PhD viva!


Welcome: New Starters This Month!

Katie Crossland has started as a 1yr JGWP postdoc post with Desa & Cat

David Wilkinson has started as a 1yr JGWP postdoc post with Drew         

Andrew Skelton has been appointed as the MRG Bioinformatician with David


Prof John Isaacs gives the Sir Michael Perrin Lecture at the RCP, London, 2013

On 18th November Professor John Isaacs was invited to give the Sir Michael Perrin Lecture at the Royal College of Physicians (London).  The title of his talk was: Biosimilars – what are they and are they safe?


Wednesday 11 December 2013

Newcastle-Manchester Research Day

Newcastle-Manchester Research Day, 12th December 2013

Jury’s Inn Newcastle, St James Gate, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4AD


Meeting Program

11:15 arrival of the Manchester group

12:00-13:00 lunch



13:00-13:15 Mike Briggs (Newcastle) – Welcome

13:15-13:55 Louise Kung (Manchester) – ER stress and OA

13:55-14:35 Mitra Forouhan (Manchester) – Role of ATF6 in pathobiology of MCDS

14:35-15:15 Lorna Mullan (Manchester) – Therapy avenues in MCDS

15:15-15:55 Peter Bell (Newcastle) –V156D matrilin-1 mouse model

15:55-16:15 coffee break


16:15-16:55 Sarah Edwards (Manchester) – Type VI collagen and ER stress

16:55-17:35 Kasia Pirog (Newcastle) – Xbp1 signalling in MED

17:35-18:00 Mike Briggs (Newcastle) – The role of ATF4 and ATF6 signalling in MED/future avenues

18:00-18:15 Mike Briggs/Ray Boot-Handford (Manchester) – Summary and closing remarks

19:00-20:00 drinks at Town Wall


20:00 dinner at The Forth Hotel, NE1 5DW


Christmas Tea Thu 12th Dec 10-11:30 Common Room 2nd Floor Leech





Friday 6 December 2013

INE Seminar: Dendritic Cells in Type 2 Inflammation

'Dendritic cells: central players in orchestration of Type 2 inflammation'.

Andrew MacDonald, University of Manchester
Thursday 12 December.
Research Beehive, INE talk at 5 pm

Andrew MacDonald completed his PhD studying immunity to helminth parasites at the University of Edinburgh in 1998. After several years in the U.S., first at Cornell University and then at the University of Pennsylvania, he returned to the UK in 2002 to the University of Edinburgh where he established his lab through successive MRC Career Development and Senior Fellowships at the Institute of Immunology and Infection Research.  In January 2013 he took up the position of Professor of Immunology at the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research (MCCIR).  His research addresses some outstanding fundamental questions about activation and modulation of immunity by a specialized type of innate cell - dendritic cells. 

Thursday 5 December 2013

ICM Research Seminar, Friday 6 December 2013, 12noon



Institute Guest Seminar


Guest Speaker: Dr John Connolly

[Director, A-Star Programme in Translational Research on Infectious Disease]

[Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Proteos, Singapore]


Venue: Lecture theatre E, ground floor, Dental School

Date and time:  Friday 6 December 2013 at 12noon


Dr Connolly will discuss:


“Systems Based Approach to Monitoring Vaccine Responses.”


Following vaccination, cellular communication, trafficking and polarization contribute to the development of the complex adaptive immune phenomenon we call protection.  As with any complex behaviour, early perturbations in the innate immune response to vaccination lead to substantial differences in the development of adaptive immune memory.  The ability to simultaneously monitor changes in multiple functional parameters holds both greater discriminatory and instructive power when compared to monitoring a single event. We have established an integrated, systems-based approach for high throughput monitoring of cellular responses (B-cell and T-cell) before and after vaccination.  Preclinical analysis of a model pandemic influenza vaccine, demonstrates that the magnitude, quality and breadth of cellular responses are determined, in large part, by the nature of TLR and NLR signalling during vaccination.  In addition to highlighting the important role of innate immune recognition in vaccination, these studies underscore the power of this systems based approach in rational vaccine design.



Dr. Connolly is a Senior Principal Investigator and Director for Translational Immunology at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IMCB).  Additionally, Dr. Connolly serves as Program Director for the A*Star Program in Translational Research in Infectious Disease, a multi-disciplinary centre focused on vaccine development.  An Adjunct Associate Professor of Immunology at Baylor University, he serves on the Board of Governors for the Institute of Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Connolly received his Ph.D. in Immunology from Dartmouth Medical School and studied human dendritic cell biology under Dr. Michael Fanger.  During this time he was involved in the development of immunotherapeutic preclinical models and clinical trials for Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). He moved to the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research, a fully translational research institute focused on rationally designed vaccines against cancer and infectious disease.  Dr. Connolly served as the Director of Research Initiatives for the Baylor Research Institute, leading a large integrated translational research resource and multi-institutional programs that involved a number of international sites.  During his tenure at Baylor, Dr. Connolly was the central core facility director of the NIAID Centres for Translational Research on Human Immunology and Biodefense, an NIH funded consortium of basic, translational research and clinical trials focused on vaccine design.  Dr. Connolly is the past President of the Board of Directors of The American Cancer Society in N. Texas


Key words:  translational immunology, systems immunology, vaccine development


Chair:  Professor John Isaacs








The Early Arthritis Clinic at the Freeman

Specialist nurse Lesley Tiffin, and consultants Alice Lorenzi and Ben Thompson.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

ICM Research Seminar, Wednesday 4 December 2013, 1.00pm


Institute Research Student Seminars

Speakers: PhD students Paul Milne (Haematology), Christopher Fox (Transplantation) and Emma Woodward (Dermatology)

Venue: Seminar room L2.5, 2nd floor, Leech Building, Medical School

Date and time:  Wednesday 4 December 2013 at 1.00pm


Paul Milne will present:


"Total Mononuclear Cell Profiling in Haematological Malignancies."


The development of multi-parameter flow cytometry protocols to completely define the mononuclear cellular components of haematological malignancies and immunodeficiencies.


Key words:  Leukaemia, Mononuclear Cells, Flow Cytometry


Christopher Fox will talk about:


"Screening of Cathepsin B and D expression in an apoptotic acute model of kidney IRI."


The project aims to investigate if the cathepsin B or D play a role in apoptosis during renal ischemia reperfusion injury (IRI). Following IRI the kidney undergoes 4 phases of regeneration, with apoptosis and necrosis as first stage.  In this study we screened the expression of cathepsins along different ischemic times in order to assess if cathepsins expression correlates with the rate of apoptosis in a mouse model of IRI.


Key words:  Kidney, Cathepsin, Apoptosis, Ischemia reperfusion injury


Emma Woodward will discuss:


"Investigating the pathogenesis of chloracne."


To understand the role of cathepsins and autophagy in regulating epidermal homeostasis

and toxicity following AhR activation by dioxin in skin.


Key words: Autophagy, Cathepsin D, Aryl hydrocarbon receptor


Chair:  Sadaf Atarod, PhD student (Haematology)








Monday 2 December 2013

RACE: Rheumatoid Arthritis Pathogenesis Centre of Excellence

On Friday, 29th November 2013, Newcastle hosted the opening Internal Science Meeting for the new Rheumatoid Arthritis Pathogenesis Centre of Excellence (RACE).

Professors Iain MacInnes, John Isaacs and Chris Buckley led the three teams from Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham in a discussion of the science and processes by which researchers would leverage the full benefits of the Centre.

In a lively meeting that bodes well for the future of the Centre the three teams identified key collaborations and PhD projects essential to the success of the Centre.

The next meeting is likely to be hosted by the team in Birmingham early in 2014..

Friday 29 November 2013

Biologics and Biosimilars

John Isaacs shares his thoughts on Biologics and Biosimilars

Wednesday 27 November 2013


Seminar Room of the Baddiley Clark Building on Friday 29th November 2013 at 9.00am

Jie Zheng (PhD Student - PI Desa Lilic)
Chris Tibbitt (PhD Student - PIs Cat Hilkens/John Robinson/Jane Falconer) Title of talk "Does strength of T cell receptor signalling regulate T helper-17 (Th17) responses in autoimmune arthritis?"
Marzena Ciechomska (Post Doc - PI Jaap van Laar) Title of Talk "Anti-fibrotic role of miR-29a in pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis"
Amy Anderson (Research Associate - PI John Isaacs) Title of Talk "Biomarkers in early rheumatoid arthritis"

Tuesday 26 November 2013

ICM Guest Seminar, Wednesday 27 November 2013


Institute Research Seminar


Guest speaker: Dr Arian Laurence

[National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases, NIH, USA]


Venue: Seminar room L2.6, 2nd floor, Leech Building, Medical School

Date and time:  Wednesday 27 November 2013 at 12.00 noon


Dr Laurence will discuss:


"Epithelial and haematopoetic STAT3 is required for antibacterial defence

in a mouse model of HIES."


Autosomal dominant Hyper IgE syndrome is an immunodeficiency associated with mutations in STAT3. To dissect the importance of STAT3 in haematopoietic and non-haematopoietic cells we generated a mouse model of this disease. These animals recapitulate multiple aspects of HIES including susceptibility to bacterial infections that was only partially corrected by bone marrow transplantation, emphasising the role played by the epithelium in the pathophysiology of HIES.



Key words:  HIES (Hyper Ig E syndrome), IL-17, IL-22, STAT3




Arian is a UK-trained haematologist and current postdoctoral member of John O'Shea's group at NIH, working on the role of STAT3 and STAT5 signaling in T cells.  He will be in Newcastle all day on the 27th - please contact Sophie Hambleton ( if you would like an opportunity to talk with him.


Chair:  Dr Sophie Hambleton




ICM Research Seminars, Wednesday 27 November 2013, 1.00pm


Institute Research Student Seminars

Speakers:  Katie Griffiths, PhD student (Diagnostics), Richard Speight, MD student (Transplantation) and Victoria Whittle, MD student (Musculoskeletal)

Venue: Seminar room L2.5, 2nd floor, Leech Building, Medical School

Date and time:  Wednesday 27 November 2013 at 1.00pm


Katie Griffiths will present:


"Laser Scribed Graphene as an electrode for sensing."


Light scribe technology has been used as a simple and inexpensive solution for manufacturing graphene electrodes for use in electrochemistry with the aim of developing novel biosensors.

Key words:  Graphene, biosensors, electrochemistry


Richard Speight will discuss:


'Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Is it all about bile in the small bowel?'


Recent evidence demonstrates that bile acids are more than mere detergent molecules with

evidence that they have an immune regulatory role.  My MD is attempting to unravel how bile acid dysmetabolism may be implicated in IBD.


Key words:  bile acids, IBD, FXR


Victoria Whittle will talk about:


"Practicing Medicine."


Exploring the impact of an Acute Care, High-fidelity Simulation teaching programme

delivered to final year medical undergraduates.


Keywords: Medical education, Simulation, Acute Care


Chair:  Catriona Barker, PhD student (Transplantation)





Saturday 23 November 2013

Prof Drew Rowan is our expert at the Arthritis Research UK Christmas event.

Our 'Meet the Expert' Christmas event is at Durham County Cricket Club on 12/12/13. Find out how to register here

Wednesday 20 November 2013

ICM Student Seminars - Wednesday, 20th November, 2013

Everyone is very welcome to attend the seminars being given today at 1.00pm in seminar room L2.3, 2nd floor, Leech Building by ICM PhD students Keith Wu (Dermatology), Eirini Giannoudaki (Immunology/Transplantation) and Teresa Kelly (Reproductive & Vascular Biology).


Tuesday 19 November 2013

UK Molecular Epidemiology Group, 6th December 2013

UK Molecular Epidemiology Group Winter Meeting  - 6th December 2013 -  further details

Research Student Seminars, Wednesday, 20th November, 1.00pm

Institute Research Student Seminar  - Wednesday 20 November 2013 at 1.00pm Seminar room L2.3, 2nd floor, Leech Building, Medical School

·        Keith Wu: "Investigating the role of epigenetics in the control of inflammatory skin disease."

·        Eirini Giannoudaki: "The role of sphingosine 1-phosphate in ischemia-reperfusion injury."

·        Teresa Kelly: "Optimising Baby to Breast Attachment (OBBA): a feasibility randomised controlled trial".

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Immunodeficiency and Early Inflammatory Arthritis

Seminar Room of the Baddiley Clark Building on Friday 15th November 2013 at 9.00am




Jessica Tarn (PhD Student - PIs Fai Ng/David Young)




Nic Robertson (Academic Foundation Doctor - PI Sophie Hambleton)

Title of talk "Investigating mutations in NUDCD3 as a possible cause of immunodeficiency"


John-Paul Doran (Clinical Research Fellow - PI John Isaacs)

Title of Talk "Biomarkers in Early Inflammatory Arthritis"


Erik Gocker: immunodeficiency, autoimmunity, colitis, IL-10

Institute Research Seminar


Guest speaker: Dr Erik Glocker

[Department of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University Hospital, Freiburg]


Venue: Dental lecture theatre E, ground floor, Dental School

Date and time:  Wednesday 13 November 2013 at 4.00pm


Dr Glocker will discuss:


“Key players for intestinal immune homeostasis.”


Key words: immunodeficiency, autoimmunity, colitis, IL-10


Sandy Tse: Cartilage Resorption in Osteoarthritis

Institute Research Student Seminars

Speakers:  Sandy Tse, PhD student,


Venue: Seminar room L2.3, 2nd floor, Leech Building, Medical School

Date and time:  Wednesday 13 November 2013 at 1.00pm



“Investigating the novel serine proteinase SPUVE and its role in cartilage resorption

in osteoarthritis.”


The aim of this project is to fully characterise the trypsin-like serine proteinase SPUVE (also known as PRRS23).  SPUVE is predicted to promote cartilage resorption in osteoarthritis since it is one of the most significantly up-regulated genes in cartilage from OA patients compared to non-diseased cartilage.


Oxford Book of Rheumatology

Congratulations to Helen Foster and John Isaacs' on their contribution to the Fourth Edition of the Oxford Book of Rheumatology.

Monday 11 November 2013

Early Diagnosis = Better Prognosis?

Arthritis Research UK recommend people visit their GP as an early diagnosis can make a big difference. May be useful:

Thursday 7 November 2013

TNF co-stimulated T-lymphocytes in systemic sclerosis

Latest Awards

Recent Awards:


ANJA - JGWP Foundation grant: dissection of tNF-mediated regulatory T cells functions: Differential TNF receptor signalling as potential predictor for anti-TNF responders and non-responders in RA (£36 000 includes technical assistant for 12 months).   

JDI - MICA: Targeting the RA synovial fibroblast via cyclin dependent kinase inhibition - a phase IIa study (£1.1 Million).

Drew - JGW Patterson Foundation Grant: The role of non-catalytic protein domains of matriptase in cartilage catabolism. £50,000.


Welcome to the MRG

And a warm welcome to our new starters!


Marilena Padsalidou       – RT – Anja

Joe Willet                            – RA  - Sophie

Karin Engelhardt               – RA  - Sophie

David Swan                         – RA  - Sophie

Ken Baker                           – PhD Student – John Isaacs

Natasha Price                    – MRes/PhD Student – John Isaacs & Drew

David Hodgson                  – MRes/PhD Student – Carol & Drew

Chun Chang                        – RA  - Drew

Craig Bullock                       – JRA  - Drew


More Publications from MRG

Monday 4 November 2013

Infection, Immunity and Inflammation

Just to remind you that this Thursday, 7th November at 5pm in room 2.21 of the Research Beehive (refreshments available from 4.30pm) 


Prof. Jim Brewer from the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of Glasgow will be speaking on:


"Imaging infection and immunity in vivo."


Jim’s research interests are listed on his lab. web page (below) and I have listed some of his recent publications fyi.



ICM Research Seminar - Intestinal Immune Homeostasis


Guest speaker: Dr Erik Glocker

[Department of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University Hospital, Freiburg]


Venue: Dental Lecture Theatre E, Ground Floor, Dental School

Date and time:  Wednesday 13 November 2013 at 4.00pm


Dr Glocker will discuss:


“Key players for intestinal immune homeostasis.”


Key words: immunodeficiency, autoimmunity, colitis, IL-10


Dr Glocker is a medical microbiologist who unravelled the critical role of IL-10 and IL-10 receptor deficiency in inflammatory bowel disease.

He also published the first report on the role of CARD9 in mucocutaneous and systemic fungal immunity.


Chair:  Dr Desa Lilic


Tuesday 29 October 2013

CIMA: Ageing Skeletal Muscles

Date:  Tuesday 5th November 2013
Time:  12.30-1.30
Venue:  Changing Age Opportunity Room, Newcastle Biomedical Research Building (NBRB), Institute for Ageing and Health, Campus for Ageing and Vitality
Speaker: Prof Francesco Falciani, University of Liverpool
Title: A Network Biology Approach Reveals Novel Regulators of Energy Metabolism in Ageing Skeletal Muscles.

Falciani is Professor in integrative Systems Biology at the University of Liverpool and holds an honorary Chair in Systems Biology at the University of Birmingham. He is the Director of the new Centre of Computational Biology and Modelling (CCBM) at Liverpool University, which has a focus in large-scale data integration across different disciplines. He leads an interdisciplinary group in Systems Biology with nine researchers with backgrounds ranging from physics, computer science and experimental biology. His current research strategy, which integrates both experimental and computational biology, has two main streams. The first is the development of novel computational methods to address the most important challenges in the emerging discipline of systems biology. These include network biology, reverse engineering and network modularization methods. The second is the application of these methods to understand complex biological systems, such as muscle degeneration in chronic inflammatory diseases.

Francesco is also a member of the Centre for Integrated research into Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA), a collaboration between the universities of Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield.

If you would like to speak to Francesco after the seminar, please contact Carole (

Monday 21 October 2013

Meeting Report: NIHR BRC Ageing Research

NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre
Frontiers of Ageing Research
St James’ Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
Thursday 17th October 2013

Despite the best efforts of the St James’ Park staff, this one day meeting sharing the latest developments in ageing research was well received by researchers and members of the public alike.
The event began with a presentation by Prof Patrick Chinnery describing the mission and rationale behind the Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) here in Newcastle.  

He traced the origins back to the Cooksey Report in 2006 and the establishment of NIHR as the R&D wing of the NHS headed by Professor Dame Sally Davies – herself a recent recipient of an honorary degree from Newcastle University. 

Prof Chinnery outlined the predicted demographic changes expected in the UK and the compelling  scientific and economic reasons underlying the drive toward personalized medicine and targeted patient care.  He described the critical importance of the patient in ensuring that resources were directed to solving problems that matter to patients. 

Hence the meeting.   

In addition he described how in the first twelve months alone the BRC had supported projects generating 145 scientific papers and attracting more than £12m in additional funding. 

Professor David Burn followed with a worked example describing the foundation of the Biomedical Research Unit in dementia with Lewy bodies.  He described the team’s drive to early diagnosis with identification, stratification and intervention targeted at those patients most likely to benefit from clinical interventions.

This session was then followed by a lively Q&A session with general discussion ranging from diabetes and ageing through to better tools to inform decision making for patients diagnosed with cancer.

The second session opened with a presentation by Dr Chris Morris outlining the work of the Newcastle Brain Bank.  He outlined expected changes in the prevalence of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease given the expected demographic changes in the next ten years.
Dr Morris described the pioneering work arising from the foundation of the Brain Bank.  The work of Martin Roth, Bernard Tomlinson, Gary Blessed and David Kay.  He described the origins of the “cholinergic hypothesis’.  Based on the work of Newcastle researchers Elaine and Robert Perry and later work by Jim Edwardson and Ian McKeith this forms the basis of many current therapeutic interventions.  Dr Morris closed by stressing the importance of brain donorship in studying diseases of the ageing brain.

Chris was followed by Professor Mike Trenell.  Mike described data providing compelling evidence for the importance of cardio-respiratory fitness in older age.  Staying fit not only increases expected lifespan, but it improves our quality of life in old age.  He highlighted the important social dimension to staying fit.  Staying fit allows us to do the things we value doing for longer.

This second session was followed by an even more lively general Q&A session with topics discussed as diverse as fatigue and the prospect of a ‘cure’ for Alzheimer’s disease.  Questions ranged from how to become a brain donor, through the mechanism by which research is translated into the GP clinic, to the educational needs of the next generation.

After lunch, the meeting broke into three separate working groups to discuss three themes – the Ageing Brain, the Ageing Body and Ageing Limbs.

The focus of the Ageing Limbs meeting was arthritis.  Dr Louise Reynard broke the ice with a short presentation on research into osteoarthritis.  She described the socio-economic rationale behind targeting osteoarthritis.  With £3.5bn lost annually in working days and an expected 17m sufferers by 2030 this is a key target for intervention by the Newcastle BRC.  Dr Rachel Harry stepped in to describe the similarities and key differences between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 
Louise and Rachel were joined by clinical researcher Dr Nishanthi Thalayasingam for the panel discussion. 
In a wide-ranging discussion members of the public were able to ask about subjects as diverse as pain management in arthritis, alternative medicines and holistic methods.  The team also fielded technical questions on palindromic rheumatoid arthritis, Paget’s disease and synovial fluid.  And finally, Dr Dennis Lendrem described the work of the Early Arthritis Clinic at the Freeman Hospital and the new Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre at the RVI.

Despite technical issues at the beginning of the meeting everyone – researchers and members of the public alike – welcomed this opportunity to get together and learn more about the research we are doing in Newcastle and the issues and concerns of patients here in the NE.  

The meeting generated more questions than it did answers but these questions will be fed back to research staff shaping future research at the Newcastle BRC.

Dr Louise Reynard outlines risk factors in osteoarthritis.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Frontiers of Ageing

Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre

Frontiers of Ageing Research:
Understanding Prevention

Thursday 17th October 2013
10:00 - 15:00

Bamburgh Suite
St. James' Park

Monday 7 October 2013

Osteoarthritis Research Day

Osteoarthritis Research Day
Newcastle University

Wednesday 16th October 2013
@Research Beehive
11:15 11:45 Ian Clark
(University of East Anglia)
(Cubby) Broccoli - ‘The Golden Gun’ for osteoarthritis?
11:45 12:00 David Wilkinson Serine proteinases in Osteoarthritis
12:00 12:15 Matt Barter microRNAs in chondrogenesis and osteoarthritis
12:15 12:45 TBC

12:45 14:00 LUNCH

14:00 14:30 Ray Boot-Handford
(University of Manchester)
Do increases in ER stress and loss of circadian rhythm contribute to the development of osteoarthritis?
14:30 14:45 Kasia Pirog
Mouse models of rare skeletal diseases as a tool to elucidate the pathomolecular mechanisms of osteoarthritis
14:45 15:00 Louise Reynard
Functional analysis of the osteoarthritis susceptibility locus residing at the carbohydrate sulfotransferase 11 gene CHST11
15:00 15:30 Chris Murphy
(University of Oxford) MicroRNA mediated regulation of chondrocyte function

15:30 16:00 coffee

16:00 16:15 Michael Ruston
Characterisation of the DNA methylome in knee and hip osteoarthritis
16:15 16:30 Rodolfo Gomez
Epigenetic control of MSC differentiation: Focus on adipocytic and osteoblastic fates
16:30 16:45 Mark Birch
Engineering biomaterials to influence musculoskeletal cell activity
16:45 17:15 Peter van der Kraan
(Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Netherlands) Role of TGF beta superfamily members in OA pathology


Thursday 3 October 2013

New centre to speed up development of arthritis drugs

Researchers will be testing drugs for other conditions to see if they can be used to help people with arthritis.

Professor John Isaacs and his team have been awarded funding of £225,000 over three years to set up the Arthritis Research UK Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre.  They will test drugs for rheumatoid arthritis that are being studied for other conditions such as cancer, in small numbers of patients.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects nearly half a million people in the UK. It is a chronic, disabling condition in which the body's immune system attacks the joints.  Although newer biologic treatments have made a huge difference to patients' lives, a proportion do not respond.

"We hope we can bring more treatment choices, in particular to test cancer drugs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who have run out of options after trying all of the biologic drugs," explained Professor Isaacs, professor of clinical rheumatology at Institute of Cellular Medicine.

"At the other extreme, if we can find a treatment that 'switches off' arthritis, this could mean that patients with early disease only require a short-term treatment, after which they will not need to take drugs."

Being part of a trial

Professor Isaacs added that experimental medicine research could seem quite daunting to patients, as the treatments being tested were new and might not work, and the trials often involve a number of blood tests and other investigations.

"When patients become involved with research they generally benefit, regardless of the actual drug being tested. Because of this we feel it's very important for everyone to understand about research. Therefore we're also developing a programme of activities to provide better information to patients and their relatives, to help them to understand about research, and whether or not to become involved," he added.

Industry collaboration

The Newcastle researchers are working with pharmaceutical companies. "Often drug companies studying one disease can't afford to simultaneously test their drug in another condition such as arthritis, so we hope they will allow us to test their drugs for the, on our diseases," said Professor Isaacs. "If successful this will benefit the patient, the researchers, the company, the charity – and the economy – a win-win situation."

The new centre has already gained funding from the Medical Research Council to 're-purpose' a cancer drug called seliciclib being developed by Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals, a University of Dundee spin-out company.

Seliciclib has been evaluated to date in approximately 380 cancer patients and is currently being tested in combination with another Cyclacel drug in cancer patients with solid tumours.

Researchers hope to show that the treatment is safe and potentially effective. Initially they will treat patients who have had the condition for at least a year and who are already taking treatment but not responding well enough. If this research is successful then they will test the treatment in patients taking different treatments, at different stages of their illness.

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 are providing  the resources to study patients in these key first stage studies."