BRU received over £1.7M in 2014/15 to support research into childhood arthritis

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is the most common inflammatory and musculoskeletal disorder in children, affecting about 1 in every 1000 children in the UK. Symptoms are highly variable, but can cause joint damage leading to severe joint pain and loss of function, growth and development abnormalities and lower levels of engagement in social activities.

Research into the causes and consequences of childhood arthritis lags behind that of other musculoskeletal conditions and for this reason it is one of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Manchester Biomedical Research Unit’s (BRU) core research themes. Researchers in the Inflammatory Arthritis in Children Theme aim to maximise treatment response in order to improve long-term outcome.

In the past 12 months the Inflammatory Arthritis in Children Theme has received funding to support five different projects in this area, totalling over £1.7 million. These studies are:

The Childhood Arthritis Prospective Study (CAPS) (Arthritis Research UK)

CAPS is a multi-centre study, coordinated by The University of Manchester, which collects data on all children newly presenting with inflammatory arthritis. The study, which started in 2001, follows children for 10 years and at age specific time-points. The data provides researchers with a valuable resource used to document and study the short and long-term outcomes of childhood arthritis, whilst also investigating predictive markers.

The current award provides funds to continue to follow the ~1500 children already recruited to the study for a further 5 years.

The Core Datasets in Paediatric Rheumatology Study (Arthritis Research UK)

Across the UK paediatric rheumatology community, a number of different groups are working on the development of core datasets for collection in clinic, from different perspectives such as clinical care, commissioning, national audit and research.  In order to address the needs of children and young people with JIA fully, it would be advantageous if a common dataset could be developed and for this to be adopted in routine clinical care nation-wide.

This funding provides support for the development of such a common dataset including the data items, their definitions and the way the data is collected.

The Long-Term Safety and Effectiveness of Biologic Therapies in Children with Rheumatic Diseases Study (Arthritis Research UK)

Biologic therapies have significantly improved outcomes for children and young people (CYP) with severe juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). However, their long-term effects remain understudied. The BCRD was launched in 2010 and aims to study their long-term effectiveness and safety of biologic therapies. The rates of adverse events will be compared with a cohort of biologically-naive CYP starting methotrexate.

The current funding provides support to continue recruitment and to continue to follow the ~600 children already in the study.

The development of a youth involvement strategy for Barbara Ansell National Network for Adolescent Rheumatology (BANNAR) (BANNAR/Arthritis Research UK)

The Barbara Ansell National Network for Adolescent Rheumatology (BANNAR) provides a platform which ensures that every young person in the UK has the best chance possible to benefit from developments in the field of adolescent rheumatology. Integral to the original proposal for the Network is equitable representation from young people with rheumatic conditions. The Young People’s Opinions Underpinning Rheumatology Research (YOURR) project is a collaboration NIHR Manchester Musculoskeletal BRU and BANNAR which will to enable young people between 11 – 24 years old, to have their say about rheumatology research and will lead to the development of a youth involvement strategy that  will underpin and support all future work of the BANNAR.

The Childhood Arthritis response to Treatment consortium (CHART): partnership to define stratified medicine tools for childhood inflammatory arthritis (MRC)

CHART unites the UK’s leading investigators in JIA translational research in order to improve understanding of treatment responses in patients suffering with childhood arthritis. It is hoped that the CHART consortium will enable better evaluation of existing clinical datasets and protocols, analysis and sharing of data within a common platform, and standardisation of datasets, measurements and protocols.
Professor Wendy Thomson, BRU Theme Lead for Inflammatory Arthritis in Children explains the importance of research into this area: “There are a lot of different forms of childhood arthritis so this group of funding will support important research to understand more about the disease process. It is hoped that the findings will then be used to develop new treatments and diagnostics in the future, to enable children and young people to receive the right treatment first time, whilst maximising effective use of healthcare resources.”