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Postdoctoral Researcher Ghada Alsaleh has been awarded a research grant by Versus Arthritis which she will use to develop a new therapy for osteoarthritis.

Ghada Alsaleh

Ghada first trained as a pharmacist before following her ambition to become a scientific researcher. She pursued her MSc and doctoral research at the University of Strasbourg working on investigating the role of a synoviocytes in rheumatoid arthritis. In 2017, she joined the University of Oxford as postdoctoral researcher.

The recently awarded Versus Arthritis Career Development Fellowship will support Ghada's proposal entitled: 'Targeting TFEB for the treatment of Osteoarthritis'. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis worldwide but lacks effective therapy. One of the main features of osteoarthritis is cartilage degradation. Preventing the loss of cartilage would halt disease progression and improve patient's quality of life.

During aging, the expression levels of a specific protein, called TFEB, dramatically fall, reducing the body's own capability for autophagy, a biological process that clears cellular debris which build up over time inside cells. This process is particularly important in old cells and often lost in older individuals. Using her fellowhip, Ghada will perform a drug screen in order to restore TFEB expression in aged individuals. This screen will allow for the identification of new drug targets for osteoarthritis and other age-related diseases.

Upon being awarded this fellowship, Ghada said: "With an increasingly aging population, age-related diseases such as osteoarthritis are becoming an increasing health burden on societies. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure or effective therapy for osteoarthritis, leaving patients often with disabling symptoms and a decreased quality of life. Most current treatments aim to manage some of these symptoms.

"In my research, I am going to explore how the expression of the protein TFEB can influence osteoarthritis pathology. I will target it in the search for new promising candidates for drug discovery approaches. The Versus Arthritis grant will help us to modulate central processes of the pathology, and not just symptoms. By doing so, we hope to stop disease progression, decrease pain and improve patients' quality of life. I feel very honoured to have been awarded this fellowship and look forward to tackling the biology and new treatment options for this disease."

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