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Kennedy Institute leads international consortium to investigate the link between gut bacteria and arthritis

The human body is teeming with microbes. Trillions of bacteria - collectively referred to as the microbiome - inhabit the gut, skin, mouth, and other body surfaces. These bacteria help the body digest food, provide nutrients, and promote a properly functioning immune system. However genetic and environmental factors can cause imbalances in the microbiome that associate with disease.

We are absolutely delighted with this Strategic Award from Arthritis Research UK. The funding will allow our consortium to push forward with its goal of bridging the gap between microbiome description and function, a key first step in unlocking the potential of the microbiome to yield new therapies for inflammatory diseases. - Professor Fiona Powrie

We are only just beginning to uncover the relationships between the microbiome and human disease. The association of particular microbes with various forms of arthritis as well as the observation that certain types of gut bacteria promote autoimmune arthritis in disease models provides the impetus to perform in-depth investigations of host-microbiome interactions in inflammatory arthritis. Now, a new international Inflammatory Arthritis Microbiome Consortium, led by Professor Fiona Powrie, has received a £2 million strategic grant from Arthritis Research UK to investigate microbial factors associated with human disease and translate findings from disease models, with the goal of opening up new therapeutic avenues for inflammatory arthritis.

The Oxford team at the Kennedy and NDORMS is joined by world-leading research partners from the University of Birmingham and UCL, as well as collaborators in the US at Harvard University, New York University and Mount Sinai Hospital, New York. Collectively the team has extensive clinical, immunological, computational and microbiological expertise - all of which are needed to tackle the complex role of the microbiota in inflammatory disease.

The investigators will apply cutting-edge technology in genomics and metabolomics to analyse patient samples from a range of inflammatory arthritides with the aim of identifying bacterial species – and their secreted molecules – that associate with disease progression and responsiveness to therapy. Follow-up mechanistic studies at the Kennedy Institute will determine how manipulation of bacterial communities may present a novel therapeutic for these diseases.

Speaking of the award, Professor Powrie says "We are absolutely delighted with this Strategic Award from Arthritis Research UK. The funding will allow our consortium to push forward with its goal of bridging the gap between microbiome description and function, a key first step in unlocking the potential of the microbiome to yield new therapies for inflammatory diseases."

The Kennedy Institute is world renowned for its capacity to translate basic research from bench to bedside. Investigators at the institute take a multidisciplinary approach, from molecular and cellular biology, to disease models and development and testing of new therapies in the clinic. The IAMC will complement other research programs within the Institute and across the University of Oxford Medical Sciences Division that aim to reveal microbial, metabolic, and immune correlates of inflammatory disease for development of new therapeutic strategies.

 

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