Members of the unit are engaged in research into rheumatoid arthritis, biologic drugs for autoimmune diseases, soft tissue rheumatism, polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis, metabolic bone disease, spondyloarthropathies, vasculitis, sports and exercise medicine and medical education.
Professor Hill Gaston writes:
"My laboratory is interested in the pathogenesis of inflammatory arthritis, particularly HLA-B27 associated spondyloarthritis including reactive arthritis. We are particularly interested in the phenotype and function of cells in the immune system in affected joints as compared to peripheral blood, and welcome opportunities to see, treat and investigate those with joint effusions. The treatment of ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis with biologic drugs and other novel approaches is also being pursued."
Dr Frances Hall describes her research programmes:
"My laboratory conducts preclinical and clinical investigations linking the pathophysiology of systemic autoimmune disease to its clinical management. Systemic autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren's syndrome, and systemic sclerosis, are complex, often debilitating conditions which are poorly managed by conventional therapy. We study immune abnormalities in these diseases, focusing in particular on T-cell dysfunction, and investigate underlying mechanisms of pathogenesis. We also develop novel markers to study clinically relevant systemic effects of chronic inflammation, such as vascular disease."
Current and recent studies:
Dr Nicholas Shenker joined our department in October 2007 and is carrying out research into chronic pain syndromes:
"My research interests centre around the clinical findings and brain plasticity changes in relation to the condition Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), formerly known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. This is based on recent literature documenting consistent but hitherto unreported clinical signs in patients with CRPS that include digit misperception, changes in body schema and image and referred sensations. These signs may reflect the documented brain changes seen in the primary sensory cortex. I am researching the prevalence of the clinical signs in an unselected cohort of patients with CRPS; identifying the normal ranges for the clinical tests; and would like to correlate these signs with functional MRI scans in the future. This effort is part of a wider clinical and research network (CRPS-UK) for which Addenbrooke's is the sponsor for the National Database."
Recent related publications:
Dr Andrew Ostor runs the Rheumatology Clinical Research Unit on E6.
"The role of this unit is to undertake clinical trials chiefly in inflammatory arthritis which includes rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis. Our trials involve the latest targeted biologic therapies, an ever expanding field, as well as more traditional therapy. With over 13 trials running at present we are at the forefront of arthritis research and development. The unit is staffed by 8 research nurses, a unit manager and medical staff. We have facilities on site to run all phases of clinical trials. We recruit patients predominantly from the outpatient clinics and surrounding hospitals. With our dedicated staff we are able to maintain our reputation as a leader in arthritis research."
Dr Adrian Crisp's clinical and research interests centre around not only the classical metabolic bone diseases e.g. all forms of osteoporosis and Paget's disease of bone but also the conditions which overlap metabolic bone and rheumatology practice, e.g. regional osteoporosis syndromes, hyperostosis osteitis syndromes, Charcot's arthropathy associated with diabetes, the bone aspects of systemic mastocytosis, rare syndromes of vitamin D resistance and complex regional pain syndrome which is often associated with regional bone loss.
Dr Barbara Silverman is the principal investigator for Addenbrooke’s for a multi-centre study to evaluate the usefulness of ultrasound scanning in the diagnosis of giant cell arteritis. Until now, the most reliable way of diagnosing this condition is from a biopsy of the temporal artery, but this technique often gives falsely negative results, so a new reliable diagnostic test would be very useful.