The ArthritisHeal project aims to train young researchers to generate novel therapeutic targets in two rheumatic diseases: osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The therapeutic approach will be focused on the role of pro-resolving lipids, which play an important role in both diseases. By training early stage researchers (ESRs) in all aspects of (pre-)clinical research of complex diseases, they will be able to grow and become versatile researchers. Each ESR will have his/her own specialty, and interact with, and understand, researchers from other sectors and disciplines.
The challenge to address
Rheumatic diseases, such as RA and OA, cause pain and deformation of joints in ~10% of the population. Both diseases have an important inflammatory component, and, despite new therapeutic strategies including biologicals, neither disease can be cured. An exciting new opportunity to find a cure is to exploit and expand the evolving field of pro-resolving lipids, including the first-discovered classes of resolvins, protectins and maresins. Stimulating pro-resolving lipids, instead of blocking pro-inflammatory mediators, offers a novel way to treat rheumatic diseases. However, the complexity of this strategy requires collaboration of researchers from biology, chemistry and medicine.
The ArthritisHeal approach
The ArthritisHeal project combines research into the role of pro-resolving lipids in both OA and RA, which enables comparison of different aspects of inflammation in these diseases, as well as exploration of common mechanisms. The role of pro-resolving lipids will be examined in patient samples and in pre-clinical animal and in vitro models. First, pro-resolving lipids known to play an important role in inflammatory or auto-immune diseases will be studied in patient samples, and the mechanism of action investigated in corresponding pre-clinical models. Second, novel pro-resolving lipid pathways will be uncovered using untargeted lipidomics in self-resolving animal models, through state-of-the-art mass spectrometry (MS) methods. These novel mediators will also be correlated to clinical data and further studied in pre-clinical models, providing another important translational step between clinical and pre-clinical research.