The theme is led by Professor Andrew Carr at the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS), the largest European academic and clinical department in the field.
NDORMS runs a world-renowned competitive programme of research and teaching, employing 500 staff and over 100 postgraduate students, supported by a grant portfolio worth over £100m.
The department includes three world-leading research institutes: the Botnar Research Centre, the Kennedy Institute for Rheumatology and the Kadoorie Centre.
It also houses the internationally recognised Centre for Statistics in Medicine and the accredited Oxford Clinical Trials Research Unit, as well as the NIHR Thames Valley Clinical Research Network, and plays a lead role in the NIHR Translational Research Collaborations in inflammatory joint and rare bone diseases.
The Musculoskeletal theme encompasses inflammatory joint disease, trauma, degenerative joint disorders and rare bone diseases.
We will build on our established and proven strengths in identifying new pharmacological, surgical and rehabilitation treatments and accelerating their translation to the clinic.
We will also further develop Oxford’s promising tissue engineering implants and devices for the benefit of patients. The Musculoskeletal theme is part of the Technology and Big Data cluster of the NIHR Oxford BRC and interacts strongly with themes within the Precision Medicine, Immunity and Infection and Chronic Disease clusters.
The work of the Musculoskeletal Theme is focused around six interacting areas (image), all underpinned by their significant impact on society.
The overarching aim of the Musculoskeletal theme is to use cutting-edge methodologies to drive translational research in musculoskeletal science with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes for patients with musculoskeletal disease.
- Early phase experimental medicine and improved first in man trials – Our focus is the use of experimental medicine techniques to elucidate the mechanism of action and potential clinical utility of novel therapeutic agents. The core of our work is in rheumatology but as the portfolio expands we are applying these approaches to other therapeutic area. Read more.
- Biomaterials to enhance tissue repair – This theme of work aims to develop biomaterial implants that can modulate behaviour of cells present in diseased and injured tissues to drive safe and effective repair of soft tissues including ligaments and tendons. Read more.
- Evaluation of novel therapies for osteoarthritis – Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent joint disease yet there are currently no reliable biochemical tests to predict or diagnose early disease, and no medical treatments to slow or reverse it. This work aims to translate work from the laboratory in human clinical studies, and runs experimental medicine studies and clinical trials relevant to osteoarthritis. This research is embedded within the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis. Read more.
- Rare bone diseases – We study all aspects of rare disease of the musculoskeletal system. We are prioritising disorders including skeletal dysplasia / metabolic bone diseases, vasculitides, arthritides and connective tissue diseases, rare reactions to bone therapies and myeloma. The RUDY Study is our main project and aims to transform clinical care for participants from birth to late adulthood through patient driven research. RUDY has a national hub in Oxford involves over 20 academic centres and NHS trusts with close links to 7 charities. Read more.
- Accelerating arthritis therapies – The Arthritis Therapy Acceleration Programme (A-TAP) creates a hub of expertise and infrastructure to support clinical inflammatory disease research to narrow the gap between bench and bedside. The A-TAP aims to speed up the development of new therapies across four related IMIDs: rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Sjogren’s syndrome and seronegative spondyloarthropathies. It will do this by exploring the common pathogenic pathways as well as the distinct organ specific features of these four inflammatory diseases. Read more.
- Translation research collaborative in joint diseases – Our programme aims to test novel therapeutic approaches in early phase development in musculoskeletal disease including Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis. We aim to test the sensitivity of novel measures of outcome linked to the pathobiology of the disease that might inform a rational decision as to whether to progress a potential pharmacotherapeutic to later phase clinical studies. We also aim to optimise and accelerate patient treatment pathways in both primary and secondary care.
- High quality evidence for trauma surgery – Trauma and emergencies are huge issues for patients, the NHS and society more broadly. Oxford Trauma and Emergency Care seeks to improve patient care by designing and testing new treatments and new treatment pathways. We aim to deliver better outcomes for patients and more efficient care within the NHS and other healthcare system worldwide. Read more.
- Rehabilitation – Our applied research aims to improve the lives of patients through musculoskeletal rehabilitation. We are leading research into how exercise and physiotherapy can be used to support the rehabilitation of patients with acute musculoskeletal injures such as a fracture or sprain, and patients with chronic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or persistent back pain. We look at how structured physical activity can be offered as an effective method of rehabilitation for patients either alongside, or as an alternative to, standard medication. Read more.
- Surgery and Interventional Trial Unit – SITU is one of seven Royal College of Surgeons of England specialist trials centres dedicated to evaluating surgical intervention, mainly by generating randomised control trial evidence. We are a multidisciplinary team who provide guidance, training and support for the development of new surgical trials and future trialists. We draw upon the considerable methodological and practical trials expertise in Oxford, including statistical, ethical, health economic, systematic review, clinical network resources and the IDEAL collaboration. Read more.
- Pharmaco and device epidemiology – We are involved in a number of national and international studies exploring the conditions of use (adherence, compliance, off and on-label use) of a number of licensed drugs and medical devices in ‘real world’ routine practice conditions. We collaborate with researchers from around the globe to improve our understanding of the safety and effectiveness of new and long-licensed medications and devices. We are particularly interested in studying both the benefits and the potential risks of the use of such therapies in special subgroups of the population that were under-represented in previous clinical trials. Read more.
Researching Rare Diseases of the Skeleton: The RUDY Study, presented by Dr M Kassim Javaid. A disease is defined as rare if it affects less than 1 in 2000 people, but the total number of people in Europe suffering from rare diseases is thought to be over 30 million. Rare Disease Day is designed to bring rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives to the attention of the general public and decision makers.