Arthritis is a common problem – almost all of us will eventually develop some kind of arthritis, and many have relatives who’ve needed joint replacements. But it’s not just a side–effect of getting older. When arthritis strikes younger people, or even children, it often causes major disability with disruption to jobs, families and the ability to enjoy life.
Fortunately there is good news…….our ability to treat the most disabling kinds of arthritis – rheumatoid disease, ankylosing spondylitis, SLE – has improved enormously in the last 10 years. New, more powerful drugs, with less side effects, have become available and have transformed many lives.
But the story is just beginning……this is a period of unparalleled opportunity in our understanding of the causes of arthritis, and our ability to treat them. We have powerful molecular tools to probe what’s going on in diseased joints, and other inflamed tissues, aided by the whole human genome sequence and other advances. And there’s a pressing need to use our new drugs, and those just over the horizon, in the most effective ways, preventing joint damage and disability.
The mission of Care is to improve the treatment of all kinds of conditions which cause arthritis. We do this through research – investigating how joints work, finding out what goes wrong in conditions which lead to arthritis, and looking for new ways to treat arthritis. We also assess the effects of novel drugs in carefully controlled clinical studies, so as to produce the safest and most effective treatments for patients. Importantly, we also aim to provide patients in Cambridge and East Anglia with information about their condition and its treatment.
Some conditions which cause arthritis also cause inflammation and damage in other parts of the body too, including effects on the heart, lungs and major blood vessels. Others involve structures close to joints, such as ligaments, tendons and muscles, rather than the joint itself. So we often find ourselves working on these aspects of arthritis, sometimes alongside other specialists and researchers at Addenbrooke’s hospital.
Now is the time to take full advantage of the advances that have been made, and further opportunities made available by powerful new research tools. Care aims to attract the brightest young scientists and doctors to Cambridge to work on arthritis, and to provide a supportive research environment where they can produce their best work. Care also encourages the scientists, doctors and nurses in the Rheumatology team to work together to bring advances in understanding from the laboratory to the clinic, so that patients get maximum benefit from the research.
Cambridge is already a very attractive centre to researchers from all over the world, with unparalleled facilities for research, not least on the Addenbrooke’s campus where we have the critical mass needed for fruitful collaboration and provide state of the art techniques. However, talented people will only come to Cambridge to work on arthritis if they can be supported financially. A central aim for Care in the next decade is to fund postdoctoral and clinical fellows who will focus all their skills on arthritis research. By investing in these people at a critical stage of their Careers, we can “capture” them for arthritis research, and equip them to obtain further research funding from MRC and major medical charities. “Seed-corn” finance from Care can be multiplied many times over in this way.
Care is a charity and does not receive any governmental support and we rely solely on donations from the public. The excellent work carried out by Care cannot continue without this generosity.
Care ensures that funds donated for patient Care or specific research projects can be channelled to where they are most needed locally. No matter what changes there may be in the structure and organisation of the Addenbrooke’s NHS Trust, the money given for both research and patient Care in the field of the rheumatic diseases is guaranteed to be used for these purposes alone.
If you are interested in contributing either by donation or participating in fund raising activities please let us know. All contributions are tax-deductable.
If you would like to support the work of Care , why not become a member? This costs £5 per year and gives you the following benefits:
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