About the project

The project aim: 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.