Tackling the burden of musculoskeletal diseases with translational breakthroughs

19 June 2018

New therapies and treatments which could relieve the burden of life-restricting diseases such as arthritis could arise from the collaboration between NIHR Nottingham BRC and AstraZeneca’s IMED Biotech Unit.

Opportunities for translational medicine within our Musculoskeletal research theme, and how researchers can put their ideas into early phase development, were explored during a workshop at the Symposium.

The presenters included Dr Andrew Whittaker, Associate Director, Clinical Science in the Emerging Innovations Team at AstraZeneca, who spoke about the ground-breaking collaboration with Nottingham, which was announced in March. The workshop was chaired by the University of Nottingham’s Professor Victoria Chapman, professor of neuropharmacology.

Under the agreement between AstraZeneca and the Nottingham BRC, Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) clinicians and university scientists have access to an extensive range of AstraZeneca’s chemical compounds, as part of their work on the development of new drugs and treatments.

More details on the collaboration are available via the University of Nottingham’s press release.

Meanwhile, Dr Ira Pande, Consultant Rheumatologist at Nottingham University Hospitals delivered a plenary talk on recent phase II and III clinical trials of pharmacological treatments.

Dr Pande’s research interests include care-giving for people living with rheumatoid arthritis and treatments for this disease. She also has specialist knowledge of osteoporosis.

The workshop was primarily aimed at researchers who undertake preclinical research on biomarkers or treatments that they hope to take forward into the clinic, or those already interested in clinical trials.

As well as the talks by Drs Whittaker and Pande, there were flash presentations from leading academics at the University of Nottingham.

These were from Dr Ifty Ahmed, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Engineering, on fracture prevention cell therapy treatment, while Cornelia de Moor, Associate Professor in RNA Biology presented on testing a novel class of oral anti-inflammatory and pain medicines.

Meanwhile, Dr Mathew Piasecki, Assistant Professor in Clinical, Metabolic and Molecular Physiology, spoke about minimally invasive imaging technologies to monitor neuromuscular decline in ageing.

The subject of Genomics, currently a hot topic in the NHS with the 100,000 Genomes Project, was tackled by Dr Matthew Loose, who specialises in deep sequence genomics, cell and development biology in the school of life sciences at the university.

Professor Paul Greenhaff, Professor of Metabolism at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences staged a presentation looking at the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex.

This is ‘a pivotal metabolic regulator’ that remains a ‘viable target for drug intervention.’