The Inflammatory Arthritis Microbiome Consortium
Bacteria and other microorganisms of the intestinal tract (collectively known as the gut microbiota) have fundamental roles in maintaining a healthy immune system. The ultimate goal of the Inflammatory Arthritis Microbiome Consortium (IAMC) is to manipulate the human microbiota for the treatment of inflammatory arthritis.
Overview of IAMC research
We are an international consortium of world leading scientists from a number of complementary disciplines. Our extensive clinical, immunological, computational and microbiological expertise place us in a unique position to perform in-depth analysis of the role of the microbiome in inflammatory arthritis (IA) and how the manipulation of bacterial communities may present a novel therapeutic for this set of diseases.
The consortium utilises state-of-the-art technologies in DNA and RNA sequencing as well as metabolomics (the process of identifying the products of metabolism) to characterise microbial community structure and function in relation to arthritis. This will identify specific host-microbiota interactions that are important in disease development, progression and response to therapy which may provide novel avenues for the development of therapeutics in the future.
The collaborative research of the IAMC is made possible through a Strategic Award from Arthritis Research UK, as well through funding from the Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Research (KTRR) and the Colton Center for the Study of Autoimmunity at the NYU School of Medicine.
The study began in April 2016 and is currently split into two working groups; Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) – This group is addressing whether specific microbes and/or their metabolites can be correlated to the inflammatory symptoms of AS. The group are searching for microbial biomarkers by collecting stool samples from AS patients and controls in Oxford. The study team will also be isolating key microbes and assessing the mode in which they interact with specific aspects of the immune system in a variety of experimental models.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – The initial work here focuses on early undifferentiated RA with samples collected at first point of contact with the medical team based in Birmingham. Stool samples are analysed for their microbial communities which are then correlated with the eventual patient outcome. It is hoped that this work will highlight any links between microbial content and patient disease outcome.
Response to Therapy – Work also to be completed by the RA working group includes characterisation of the gut microbiome and its correlation to how patients respond to therapy. There is a broad spectrum of drug treatments and combination treatments for RA and our team will be analysing how many of them interact with the gut microbiome and how this interaction affects how patients react to different drugs. In the future it is hoped that information from this study will help guide future drug development and examine the use of microbiota as a therapeutic.
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) – JIA patients that present during childhood, are entered into our studies via clinics at Great Ormond Street Hospital and UCLH. Samples from these cohorts will feed into the RA and AS working groups and the differences between microbiota from adult onset and juvenile onset arthritides examined.
1. To determine whether the gut microbiome of patients with RA, AS and the juvenile forms of these diseases is abnormal.
2. To show how microbiome biomarkers can predict disease outcomes and response to therapy.
3. To elucidate how specific microbes or their components may cause, enhance or protect against disease.
Professor of Musculoskeletal Sciences and Director of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, University of Oxford
Professor of Experimental Rheumatology, Oxford Botnar Research Centre, University of Oxford and Consultant Rheumatologist, OUH NHS trust, Oxford
Assistant Professor, Immunology Institute and Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Associate Member, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard School of Public Health
Reader in Adolescent and Adult Rheumatology and Principal Investigator of the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology
Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Professor of Molecular Immunology, New York University School of Medicine
Professor of Immunology, Centre for Rheumatology research, University College London
Norman Collisson Professor of Musculoskeletal Sciences, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology & Oxford Botnar Research Centre, University of Oxford
Professor of Paediatric Rheumatology and Director Arthritis Research UK Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology, University College London
Reader in Experimental Rheumatology, University of Birmingham