View all news

A drive towards targeted therapy in osteoarthritis

8 November 2018

Dr Chrissy Hammond has won over £900k from Arthritis Research UK to fund a 5-year study on the function of early genetic changes in osteoarthritis using zebrafish as a model system.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a highly debilitating disease which accounts for substantial morbidity and disability, particularly in older people. Currently, OA is primarily treated symptomatically using pain killers, or via surgery to replace joints in the later stages of the disease. To avoid surgery pharmaceutical options to treat the early stages of the disease would be desirable; however currently there are few treatments and no pharmaceutical cure.

Dr Chrissy Hammond’s group is interested in the genetics of OA and the interaction between genes and joint mechanics in the development of the disease. It is known that wear and tear on joints through a lifetime of use takes its toll as we age, but we now understand that genetics play a big role in OA susceptibility.

Dr Hammond’s group use zebrafish as a model system; as they are small, translucent and they are simple to genetically manipulate. In this fellowship the Hammond lab will use genome editing to alter genes in the zebrafish which have been identified from human patients to study the effect of the genetic changes on the cells of the skeletal system. Using zebrafish carrying fluorescent reporters for cartilage, bone and the immune system they will then identify how these changes lead to joint disease.

One goal of the project is to study whether drugs currently licenced for other diseases can have beneficial effects on the joints.

Dr Chrissy Hammond said

“It is a privilege to win such an amazing award from Arthritis Research UK. With this funding we can use zebrafish genetically altered to carry disease genes to test how different

pharmaceuticals work in different genetic backgrounds, working towards an ultimate goal of targeted therapies”.

Edit this page